Blackstones 1 Desborough Town 2
Tuesday, 18 March 2008
Desborough will meet lower grade champions Daventry Town in the League Knockout Cup final after getting the better of Blackstones for a third time this season in this Lincoln Road semi final.
Ar Tarn produced a slick first half performance to build a winning lead but had to withstand a Stones comeback after the interval.
The early stages were all Desborough with strike pair Paul Caswell and Michael Byrne combining well, and after Jamie Gilsenan had fired narrowly wide from a short corner routine which caught out the home side, Byrne crashed a free kick against the home crossbar.
After twelve minutes Dan Cotton's foul on Gilsenan saw the visitors awarded a spot kick but Byrne's penalty was superbly saved by home keeper Ian Flavell.
Desborough continued to dominate proceedings and the woodwork again came to Stones' rescue as Danny Pownall rose highest in a crowded box to head against the bar.
Blackstones first meaningful attack saw Kevin Ainslie break on the left and cross for Liam Harrold to turn and shoot inches over but that was an isolated home threat as Stuart McClarty took a return pass from Mike Sneddon before forcing Flavell to tip away.
A great run by Byrne set up Sneddon to shoot wide, but Stones should have opened the scoring when an Andy Lodge free kick picked out the unmarked Harrold whose header was directed straight at Ar Tarn keeper Michael Evans.
Blackstones seemed to be gaining a foothold in the game with Phil Stebbing narrowly off target with an overhead kick and Cotton narrowly wide from distance but Ar Tarn then struck twice in five minutes to take a stranglehold on the tie.
The opening goal after 37 minutes saw a more direct approach rewarded as the Blackstones defence failed to deal with a long clearance by Evans and Paul Caswell netted with a low shot into the corner.
With three minutes of the half remaining Ar Tarn doubled their advantage as Byrne latched onto a through ball and outpaced the home defence before sliding the ball under the advancing Flavell.
Stones raised their game at the start of the second half. An Ainslie corner found Richard Jones whose header found Evans well placed to save, and after 54 minutes the home side hit the target. Ainslie's cross was only half cleared and Ross Watson followed up to score his second goal in two games.
An opportunist lob by Byrne from out on the right was narrowly off target but as the match progressed it was Stones who looked the more dangerous side.
Luke Kennedy's penetrating pass found Watson who was denied a second goal by a fine save from Evans, while Stebbing's follow up was blocked by a defender.
Cotton curled a left foot effort wide from distance but as time ticked away the home attacks petered out against a determined defence and Ar Tarn kept their lead to secure a victory that was well deserved for their sparkling first half display.
Blackstones: Ian Flavell, Robbie Blowers, Trevor Smith (Luke Kennedy), Paul Sheehan, Richard Jones, Ross Watson, Dan Cotton, Andy Lodge, Liam Harrold (Ashley Stevens), Phil Stebbing, Kevin Ainslie.
Desborough: Michael Evans, Michael Stanton, Chris Logan, Danny Pownall, Paul Malone, Tom Mills, Stuart McClarty, Mike Sneddon (Callum Noble), Michael Byrne, Paul Caswell, Jamie Gilsenan.