Heckington United 3
Market Rasen Town 4
AFTER the disappointing midweek defeat to Louth United reserves, Rasen made the long journey to Heckington for their re-arranged Challenge Cup first round fixture.
Ineligibility, injuries and work commitments meant interim manager Ian Williams was forced yet again to re-shuffle the starting line–up, which included the returning Andy Brumpton, and for the first time in his 30–year football career, veteran Williams himself stepped in at centre back to play alongside Scott Lowman.
The game started in slightly frantic fashion with neither team able to stamp their authority as both teams looked to take an early advantage.
Rasen always knew that with the pace offered by lone striker Kyle Paul they were always in with a chance of hitting their opponents on the break, and so this proved in the first 10 minutes when Paul broke clear down the left to square the ball to Rutherford, who saw his effort cannon against the crossbar with Osbourne unable to score from the rebound.
Heckington had a clear game plan of patient play at the back and always looked to find their target men whenever the opportunity arose, but with Lowman and Williams in commanding form the hosts never really threatened the Rasen goal in the first half.
It was a different story at the other end with Drew Marshall and Chris Bassam linking well down the left to feed Paul, who broke clear and with only the keeper to beat blasted the ball home on 25 minutes.
Not to be outdone by their teammates, the right hand side combination of Korytnickyj and Smith surged forward to yet again feed Paul, who this time rounded the keeper and placed the ball in the back of the net to double Rasen’s advantage.
Paul could have completed a first half hat-trick late on but his effort was saved well.
Going into the second half Rasen looked to control the game by sticking tight to their opponents to nullify their game plan, but a poor second half performance saw Heckington produce two identical goals with long high balls into the box, which were not dealt with by the Rasen defence or keeper.
With renewed vigour Heckington produced their best form in the second half but were unable to put themselves ahead and with 15 minutes remaining Paul looked to have sealed victory when he slotted home to finally complete his hat-trick.
However, in the dying minutes of normal time Heckington forced a corner which was again not dealt with and bundled the ball home to send the game into extra time.
With neither team having a full complement of substitutes available extra time was always going to be difficult for both teams, but it was Rasen who yet again took the lead when Guy Smith found space in the box to power home into the bottom corner.
This was to be the last time Rasen would see the Heckington goal as the home team powered forward in search of the equaliser, but it was at the point that Dale Christie in the Rasen goal showed all his experience by producing four crucial saves late in the game to keep his team ahead, and as the ref blew the final whistle an exhausted but jubilant Rasen team savoured the hard fought victory which will now see them host Nettleham in the quarter finals, date to be confirmed.
Next Saturday Rasen host Immingham Bluestone in the Lincs Junior County Cup, kick–off 2.30pm, when Rasen will look to replicate last years successful run.