AFC Louth edge Mablethorpe Athletic thanks to Fairburn winner

Danny Stevens jumps to catch the ball for Mablethorpe in their league derby clash with AFC Louth EMN-160102-103355002
Danny Stevens jumps to catch the ball for Mablethorpe in their league derby clash with AFC Louth EMN-160102-103355002

AFC Louth entertained Mablethorpe Athletic in an East Lincs Combination derby and eventually ran out 2-1 winners in a close encounter which could have gone either way.

Mark Fairburn went close early on for the hosts with a shot which nearly went in before the same player raced clear and was thwarted by goalkeeper Danny Stevens.

Midway through the half Mathew Sirett almost deflected Ed Cope’s cross into his own net and Mablethorpe’s skipper was relieved to see the ball rebound back off the left-hand post.

In the 36th minute, Courtney Skeldon gave Mablethorpe the lead, latching onto Danny Marshall’s through ball to lob the advancing Ian McTaggart.

But right on half-time, Skeldon was unable to continue after jumping for a header and landing awkwardly on his ankle.

He was replaced by Max Billingham for the second half.

Louth began the second half brightly with Cope forcing Stevens into a fine save, and Harry Jacklin’s shot was brilliantly headed off the line by Stewart Thomas.

Cope equalised on the hour mark, slotting into the bottom left corner when Simon Clifford played him in.

Minutes after the restart Nick Manders squared across goal to James Harness whose close-range effort was somehow kept out by Stevens.

Jamie Aldrich then rattled the crossbar with a free-kick as Louth continued their promising spell.

At the other end Sirett fired inches wide before Paul Mail went close with a good effort.

But Fairburn won the match for Louth with an excellent late goal. The striker let fly from distance and found the top left-hand corner, leaving Stevens with no chance.

Louth kept it tight in the final 10 minutes to hang on for a 2-1 win.

Mablethorpe manager Mick Stubbs thought his side had been unlucky to lose.

“It was a very close game and we maybe deserved a point on the day,” he said.

“The first half went well, but we didn’t take our chances in the second half and Louth managed to turn the game around.

“It was a shame when Courtney Skeldon got injured just before half-time. He was our man-of-the-match even though he only played 45 minutes and we wish him well.

“Hopefully we can do better next week when we play them again at our place.”

On Saturday, Mablethorpe host AFC Louth in the league (kick off 1.45pm).

Mablethorpe (4-5-1): Stevens; Thomas, Carter, J. Marshall, Sirett (c); Brownson, Mail, D. Marshall, Whiley, Mackay; Skeldon (Billingham 46).