Winterton Rangers 2 Cleethorpes Town 2
HONOURS EVEN AT WINTERTON
The first away trip for 2018/19 pre-season saw a short hop to our Lincolnshire neighbours, Winterton Rangers. The hosts currently ply their trade in NCEL Division 1. As this is 2 levels below the Evostik East, the Owls entered the game confident of continuing the 100% start. As always though at this stage, game time and improving fitness would be more important than the result.
Sixteen players were named by Marcus Newell and Dave Smith, including three making their debut in the first-team squad. Starting XI was David Birch, Paul Walker, Loz McKay, Mark Gray, Oli Donald, Kieran Wressell, Liam Dickens, Alex Flett (captain), Danny North, Lewis Collins and Liam Davis. The subs consisted of Josh Batty, Matt Bloomer, Connor Southern, Loz Burchell and Jack Boswell.
A 3-5-2 formation was adopted by the Owls with both Walker and McKay getting well forward in their wing-back roles. The first action saw a low shot from Davis, who had started in a lively manner, comfortably collected by the home keeper.
The visitors went ahead midway through the half from the penalty spot. Collins went on a run through the inside left channel and went down just inside the area. There was no real appeal, so it was something of a surprise for the crowd when the referee adjudged a foul. The reliable Danny North despatched the ball hard and low into the corner of the net.
Rather than deflate the hosts, they now enjoyed their best spell and deservedly equalised after 30 minutes. A fine move down the left ended with Elliot Broughton sweeping the ball in from 15 yards, just beyond Birch’s reach.
It had all become a bit disjointed for the Owls as they struggled to find their usual fluency. Winterton missed a good chance from a corner and Clee could count themselves a shade fortunate to go in level at the break.
HT Winterton Rangers 1 (Broughton 30) Cleethorpes Town 1 (North 22 pen)
No doubt with some words of advice from the management team ringing in their ears, the Owls started the second 45 in a much more positive fashion. They forced a succession of corners and captain Flett went very close to restoring the visitors’ lead.
All five subs came on after 57 minutes play, with Southern, Burchell and Boswell all keen to impress on their debuts. However, Winterton were still a threat and scored their second shortly afterwards. Broughton was again on hand to finish a fast break from close range.
The game now opened up and half chances came & went for both teams. Just when it seemed that the Owls were going to slide to defeat, up popped substitute Loz Burchell with the equaliser on 82 minutes. The visitors best move of the match sliced open the defence and the young debutant arrived perfectly at the far post to ram the ball home.
Clee were now dominant and finished the encounter very strongly. However, a winner would not come which, in fairness, would have been very harsh on a decent Winterton side.
HT Winterton Rangers 2 (Brougton 30, 61) Cleethorpes Town 2 (North 22 pen, Burchell 82) Attendance: 90 (estimated)
A bit of a shock to the system – for me at least! I was expecting a fairly comfortable victory from this one but Winterton looked pretty useful. As I said at the start of this report, not too bothered about the result at this stage.
Players fitness is improving all the time and pre-season is the time to experiment, hence the 3-5-2 formation. It will be interesting to see if we go with this when the real action starts or perhaps 4-4-2 / 4-3-3. Everyone will have their own ideas about our best XI and some hard choices are going to be facing the management come 18th August.
Lincolnshire Senior Cup Semi-Final action this Wednesday (25th – 7.45pm), when we welcome Lincoln United to New Linden. A Cup Final place is up for grabs and it would be great to give ourselves the chance of silverware so early in the season. Admission is £5 / £3.
UP THE OWLS!