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Sleaford Town goalkeeper Liam Flitton scores against Pinchbeck United

Goalkeeper Liam Flitton was on target as Pinchbeck United's final hopes of escaping relegation were ended on Tuesday night.

Flitton scored the second goal with a huge clearance from his own penalty area as Sleaford secured a 2-0 win against the Knights at the Sir Halley Stewart ground.

The defeat means Pinchbeck are all but confirmed as finishing bottom of the table and in the one relegation place from the United Counties League Premier Division North.

Liam Flitton. Photo: Jason Richardson
Liam Flitton. Photo: Jason Richardson

Although they still have one match remaining at home to AFC Mansfield on Saturday and trail second-from-bottom Hucknall Town by three points, Pinchbeck have such an inferior goal difference that there will be no escape for the Knights.

They gave their absolute all in their penultimate game of the season but, as has been the case all season, lapses in concentration were punished and the lack of a serious cutting edge was again apparent.

Sleaford could have broken the deadlock inside the opening three minutes but Akeel Francis steered his shot wide from Tom Ward's headed knockdown.

Pinchbeck full-back Oliver Fields then set off on a marauding run down the left before fizzing over a dangerous cross but none of his team-mates were on hand to provide the finishing touch from close range.

Sleaford then struck the opening goal in the 14th minute as Francis found space to tee up Fin Armond who created enough room to drive home his finish against his former club.

The goal rocked the Knights and ex-Pinchbeck player Jake Henderson dragged his shot wide after home goalkeeper Lewis Cox had failed to claim a Tristan Drummond free-kick.

Cox then miscued a clearance but redeemed himself to block Ryan Lennon's follow-up with Archie Moyses making a vital goalline clearance as Francis steered the rebound goalwards.

Pinchbeck then survived the sticky spell and came more into the contest as the half wore on but Flitton wasn't seriously tested.

He safely held onto a well-struck Logan Tate free-kick before Lewis Daff did well to block a shot from the home attacker to ensure Sleaford held their lead at the break.

Pinchbeck picked up the momentum again after the restart with the impressive Ben Robson heading wide from a corner before being denied by Ward's block as he set his sight on goal.

Fields fired in another shot from distance which Flitton was equal to before the visiting goalkeeper hit Pinchbeck with the body blow with 16 minutes minutes remaining.

He launched a long clearance from inside his own penalty area which bounced once off the slick surface and over opposite number Cox before nestling in the back of the home net.

There was no way back for the Knights as Sleaford saw out the game to maintain their push for the play-off places.

The Greens' style of play isn't particularly pleasing on the eye (or ears with their constant haranguing of officials over every decision) but it is effective and brings results.

Pinchbeck's young squad, while full of emerging talent, need to learn to add those 'darker arts' to their game if they are to mount a successful challenge to bounce back next season.

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