Langtoft United’s return to Lincolnshire Junior County Cup action, after a self-imposed exile of several seasons, was short-lived as they fell at the first hurdle on Saturday.
They did at least extend their return by 30 minutes as their clash with fellow Peterborough League outfit Pinchbeck United went to extra time, but it was the visitors to Manor Way who triumphed 2-0.
It was an encounter that could cost both sides dearly in terms of player suspensions over coming weeks as two from each side were shown red cards, although both clubs felt some of the decisions were harsh.
Pinchbeck dominated the opening 45 minutes and forced Langtoft keeper Dan Smith into three or four great saves. Langtoft did threaten a breakthrough, through a Dan Morris long-range shot and a Lee Mills corner, but these were the only highlights in a poor first half from the Vikings.
In the second half Langtoft improved with Lee Mills and Tony Wooding looking dangerous down the left and starting to get crosses into the Pinchbeck box.
Then the game changed. Dan Morris broke free of the Pinchbeck defence and was drought down by the keeper outside the box, with a straight red the referee’s decision, although two defenders had got back.
Langtoft sniffed the win and flooded forward but then a coming together between Mills and the Pinchbeck central midfielder was judged to be a two-footed tackle and the Langtoft player was given his marching orders.
Both sides struggled to get into a flow and what had been an even-tempered game took another turn for the worse when Langtoft’s Steven Slack and Pinchbeck’s centre-half tangled in the box.
It looked like handbags, but the referee again reached to his pocket and produced two more reds, reducing both sides to nine men. The rest of the game became a very open affair with Smith again being called into action twice to keep the home side in the game.
Into extra time and both sides looked like they could win, but the breakthrough eventually came from a Pinchbeck corner.
The ball was swung in from the right and the Pinchbeck substitute showed the most determination to get onto it and powered the ball past a helpless Smith.
Langtoft refused to be beaten and could have forced an equaliser through Sean Treagus but his long-range shot was well saved by the stand-in Pinchbeck keeper.
The final nail in the home side’s coffin came when Tony Wooding was judged to have fouled the Pinchbeck forward in the box and the penalty was calmly slotted home.
Pinchbeck’s goalscorers were Bradley Murrell and Liam Ogden. Tom Brooks and Jordon McCready were sent off.Langtoft manager Ryan Hunnings said: “I thought the first half was tough for us, I wanted to try a new formation, but unfortunately it failed.”
“When we switched back to a more traditional 4-4-2 in the second half we started to play the football I know we’re capable of. Unfortunately the game was ruined in the second half and ended up being a very disorientated affair.
“I’d also like to publicly apologise as I didn’t cover myself in glory as I too was sent off for a disagreement with the referee in the closing minutes of extra-time.”
The Vikings are back in PDFL Premier action on Saturday at AFC Stanground.