Missed chances leave Stratford Town settling for a draw at Leiston
STRATFORD Town squandered two great chances to come away from Leiston with all three points on Tuesday night – but instead had to settle for their first draw of the season, reports Steve Wood.
The previous midweek trip to Leiston in March 2019 had Jordan Williams, Jimmy Fry, Lewis Wilson, Will Grocott and Mike Taylor in the starting line-up and all five featured again in this 2021 fixture. The starting line-up saw Michael O’Regan replace Kynan Isaac and on the bench Fry and Enoch Andoh were additions.
Stratford kicked off down the slope and the opening exchanges were dominated by the home side, who appeared more comfortable on the heavy surface with the Leiston midfield pair of Finlay Barnes and George Quantrell appearing to glide across the pitch at times.
Against the run of play, goalkeeper Samuel Donkin found himself stranded 20 yards out of goal in the ninth minute and the ball fell to Jack Storer, but Harry Wakefield had drifted offside with only one defender left on the goal line.
Leiston’s dominance eventually paid off three minutes later as the home side attacked down the right and hesitation in the Bards goal allowed Barnes to turn Dan Vann on the edge of the box and he calmly stroked the ball into the far corner.
The home side’s pace in midfield continued to trouble and with Stratford’s outlet options limited, there were periods where the home side swamped the midfield.
The game-changer came on 42 minutes when Quantrell found himself alone in the box and bearing down for what looked like a certain goal before Murphy Mahoney made an outstanding save.
This appeared to galvanise the Bards as they gained momentum and deep into added time they found the equaliser.
An elementary mistake by Donkin provided an indirect free-kick inside the box for Stratford and Ashley Sammons’ shot was deflected off Joe Magunda and into the net.
The Bards were out of the blocks quickly after the break and started to create opportunities, with Will Dawes causing havoc down the left and the referee having to show a succession of yellow cards.
The game was end-to-end, with Mahoney making another fine save and Mugunda and Williams reducing Leiston to few clear-cut chances.
With Leiston pushing on, Wakefield found himself in on goal but with only the ‘keeper to beat his shot was off target.
Stratford were under significant pressure in the closing stages as Leiston threw everything at the Bards, but Taylor also had a glorious chance to take all three points as he turned the home defence and drove into the area, but pulled his shot wide.
Despite the missed opportunities, it was a well-earned point for the Bards.
LEISTON: Donkin, Marsden, Dunbar, Eagle (Keller 72), Bailey-Dennis, Hutchings, Barnes, Quantrell, Davies, Odelusi, Mills. Unused subs: Hunter, Switters, Mesuria.
STRATFORD: Mahoney, Vann, Williams, Wilson, Magunda, O’Regan, Dawes, Grocott, Sammons, Storer (Fry 80), Wakefield (Taylor 85). Unused subs: Lafferty, Andoh, Obeng.