LOUTH Town leapt up to second in the Northern Counties East League Division One table after a dramatic 3-2 win at Shirebrook Town on Saturday.
An early goal from Town skipper Carl Martin was cancelled out before Matt Kennedy and Andy Willoughby made it 3-1, and a late consolation goal could not hide manager Daryl Clare’s delight afterwards.
Injuries forced several changes to the Louth side that travelled to Shirebrook hoping to keep up their fine recent form, but the home side also had something to prove having suffered three straight defeats.
The White Wolves had no time for sympathy and immediately set their stall out by putting pressure on the home defence and it was no real surprise when skipper Carl Martin led the way with an excellent headed goal after just ten minutes when he headed home from a well-placed Matt Kennedy corner.
The home side seemed to be stung into action after that and Louth’s defenders had to be on their toes as Shirebrook pressed for an equaliser. Stuart Leafe playing well at right back seemed to mop up and clear every ball. The White Wolves hit back and went close on several occasions with Matt Kennedy pulling the strings.
Even when the equaliser came in the 33rd minute it was still a little bit of a surprise as Jack Vernon headed past MacTaggart and into the net. Just afterwards Jack Wightwick was injured and replaced by Michael Broughton for the visitors.
The equalising goal only served to increase Louth’s efforts though and the ever-lively Matt Kennedy threatened several times before his individual flair finally paid off in the 43rd minute and restored the visitors’ lead at half-time.
In the second half Shirebrook continued to work hard to get back on level terms again only to find goalkeeper MacTaggart in good form. Louth also threatened to increase their lead. The game started to get a little more physical and two home players were shown yellow cards along with Michael Armstrong of Louth who was then substituted, Paul Goodhand replacing him.
The game seemed all over with a quarter of an hour to go when Andy Willoughby made it 3-1 but Shirebrook still refused to give in.
The home side pulled another goal back at the very end of the game through substitute Lewis Jackson who hammered the ball home, but was too late as once again Louth took all three points which leaves them just one point behind the leaders (now four after Athersley Recreation won 2-0 at Selby Town on Tuesday).
After the match the Shirebrook manager Gary Castledine and assistant Jamie Kirk left the club by mutual consent after a run of poor results.
Louth Town manager Daryl Clare could hardly contain his delight after the game.
“In many respect that was our best performance of the season,” he said.
“The lads were tired and carrying niggles, but we insist on playing good football and covering each other’s backs when needed and always giving everything. With the quality we had missing from the side it was a superb effort. Now we are looking forward to every match.
“We are at home midweek in another league match and then at home again next Saturday to Dunkirk in the FA Vase.
“The lads have been delighted with the support we have been getting so we hope our 12th man will be there at both matches to help us keep this momentum going. We still have a few injuries but there is such a great spirit in the dressing room that everyone wants to play so hopefully we have the depth of squad and the desire to keep going.”
Town face 12th placed AFC Emley at Park Avenue tonight (Wednesday) where they hope to reel in leaders Athersley.