Goalkeeper Ben Smith was the hero as Louth Town Reserves ground out a goalless draw with their Boston United counterparts at Park Avenue on Saturday.
Despite having plenty of good chances Boston failed to score due to a combination of poor finishing, brilliant goalkeeping by Ben Smith, the offside flag and a late penalty miss.
Karl Shackleton seemed to have a glaring opportunity as Jamie Coulson, returning from injury, squared across the six yard box but Shackleton couldn’t quite stretch far enough. This was before Smith made a string of brilliant saves at the other end.
Just before the half hour mark Smith showed lightning reflexes to palm a shot onto his right post then smother the rebound.
Smith had a couple more one-on-ones to deal with and saved them both with his feet, first when the striker was in aand minutes later saved another with his foot.
Not once, not twice, but three times Smith had saved whilst in a one-on-one situation which was outstanding. However, his most astonishing save followed when a corner kick was met by a header from point blank range. Smith reacted in time to get his hands to the ball and somehow kept it out.
In the first minute of the second half Boston missed a glorious opportunity to break the deadlock. A free kick was floated in from the left and volleyed wide at the far post. The player was only four yards out and really should have hit the target.
In the 49th minute Craig Dalton thought he’d scored an own goal – until Smith spared his blushes. A low cross deflected off Dalton and appeared to be going in, but Smith pulled off yet another excellent save.
A mix up between the Boston goalkeeper and a defender almost resulted in a goal for Town. The goalkeeper and one of his defenders got in each others way on the edge of the box allowing Sam Hallett to stab the ball towards the empty net. Luckily for them the ball trickled inches wide of the left post.
As Town began to improve the Coulam brothers came close in quick succession. Bradley Coulam surged forwards from right back and stung the goalkeeper’s fingertips with a powerful drive. Next Coulson pulled the ball back to Paul Coulam who fired over the bar.
With time running out a Boston man drilled the ball in low and hard to a team mate who tapped in only to see his goal disallowed for offside. Having got away with that one Town survived an even bigger scare on 83 minutes. Shackleton mistimed his challenge in the area and the referee awarded Boston a penalty.
But Town were let off the hook and were mightily relieved to see the taker blaze his spot kick wide.
In injury time substitute Ashley Perkins could have nicked all three points with a set piece when his curler from a free kick forced the goalkeeper into a diving save.
Moments afterwards the final whistle was blown and Town had drawn for the first time this season.
Town did well to contain Boston who are a very strong team for 90 minutes. Smith was the man of the match and deserves credit for the many saves he made. A draw often feels like two points dropped – on this occasion it felt more like a point gained.
No permanent manager has been found to replace Jack Burton yet so Mike Armstrong was in charge.
Armstrong was pleased with the performance of his side. He said: “We were very good compared to recent weeks and it was pleasing to keep a clean sheet.
“Ben Smith was outstanding in goal today and I agree he was the man of the match. We worked hard and were well organised too - this could be the start of a good run.”
Town’s next opponents are Heckington United in the Lincs league. This fixture is away on Saturday November 17 (2pm).