Louth Town Reserves were heavily defeated by Ruston Sports and failed to score for the third match in a row.
To make matters worse their player/manager, Craig Dalton, suffered yet another of his knee injuries and is likely to miss the remainder of the season. With a shortage of players this is something the club could really do without.
Ruston were 1-0 up in the opening stages. Dalton’s headed back pass to Ben Smith was intercepted by a striker who rounded him and tapped into the empty goal. Minutes later Dalton came off worst in a tackle and sustained his injury as a result. After a lengthy delay he was taken to casualty and replaced by Town’s only available substitute, Joe Rennie.
Not much happened for the rest of the first half – except Ruston nearly scoring an embarrassing own goal. Adam Coddington’s cross deflected off a defender and the ball rolled perilouslly close to his own net. Ruston’s goalkeeper recovered in time to spare his blushes though.
Early in the second half a Ruston man slid in to divert a low cross onto the bar before one of his team mates missed a sitter. A player beat the offside trap to find himself one-on-one with Smith and inexplicably shot wide from close range.
Sam McSpadden almost netted an absolute peach of a goal out of nothing. The young lad received the ball in central midfield and let fly from 30 yards out. It was a fantastic effort and he was desperately unlucky to rattle the crossbar. It would have been one of the goals of the season!
In the 74th minute Ruston added their second goal from a set piece. A corner was swung in from the left and an unmarked player had a free header inside the 6 yard box. Soon afterwards Town conceded another goal from a corner. On that occasion it was drilled in from the right, eluded a crowd of players and found its way to a Ruston man who was left with a simple tap in at the far post.
With 10 minutes remaining Ruston’s right winger controlled a long ball and blasted it towards the top left corner. Smith hurled himself across his line and produced a fabulous save to deny him. Moments later a player chased another ball over the top and dinked it onto the underside of the bar – the officials agreed that the ball didn’t quite cross the line.
Shortly before full time a solo run led to the fourth goal. A player dribbled forwards, skipped through the Town defence and coolly finished to add gloss to the final score.
A patched up Town side deserve credit for battling tirelessly and staying focused despite the early setback. However, Ruston performed well and were worthy winners on the day.
Obviously Dalton was unable to give post match comments. Eddie Clark did instead. He said: “We made a slow start and conceded after a defensive mistake. When we lost Dolly we changed the shape and played well until the second goal went in. Once it did we went all out attack to try and get back in the game, but it didn’t work and we conceded two more goals.
“Alex Carter and Paul Coulam were playing with minor injuries so I would have taken them off, but we had no substitutes left. Some players have not shown enough commitment this season.”
Town’s next fixture is in midweek for a change. Grimsby Borough reserves will be the visitors to Park Avenue on Wednesday February 13 (7.45 pm).