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Town fight back to sink Leiston

Mike Taylor celebrates with Will Grocott and Wilson Carvalho after putting Town 2-1 up. Photo: Steve Wood
Mike Taylor celebrates with Will Grocott and Wilson Carvalho after putting Town 2-1 up. Photo: Steve Wood


Evo-Stik Southern Premier Central

Leiston 1-2 Stratford Town

Report by Bryan Hale

TWO goals in the space of 42 seconds either side of halftime propelled Stratford Town to their third successive win and strengthened their grip on an end of the season play-off place.

Stratford’s starting line-up was unchanged from Saturday, but the subs bench was boosted by the return of Dan Creaney.

Leiston made a bright start and only the woodwork prevented them from talking the lead in the second minute when Kyle Hammond’s corner from the left reached Harry Knights at the far post and his volley cannoned against the bar.

Soon after Hammond surged forward down the inside right channel before being crowded out on the edge of the penalty area before Stratford put together their first serious attack in the 12th minute only for Will Grocott’s cross to be miscontrolled by Mike Taylor and the chance was gone.

Wilson Carvalho then blasted a free kick in a promising position straight into the Leiston wall, but with Christy Finch being particularly lively on the left Leiston were looking the more dangerous of the two, sides and they went ahead in the 26th minute when Matt Blake latched onto a long ball and coolly slotted it past Laurence Bilboe.

Stratford tried to respond but a couple of dangerous crosses around the half-hour mark from Carvalho and Grocott were well defended by the imposing Leiston central defensive duo of skipper Joe Jefford and Knights.

Leiston were close to doubling their lead ten minutes before half-time when Finch hit a fierce effort inches, wide but Stratford were to equalise with the last kick of the first half when Nabil Shariff was brought down in the area and Carvalho thumped the penalty past keeper Marcus Garnham with the minimum amount of fuss.

And just 42 seconds into the second half Stratford were ahead when Shariff crossed from the right and Taylor expertly directed his header beyond Garnham for his 16th goal of the season.

Stratford were saved by the woodwork for the second time in the evening barely a minute later when Finch’s shot deflected off Chris Cox onto the post, but they were now causing Leiston plenty of problems, with Taylor not far away from the edge of the penalty area and Carvalho forcing a smart save from Garnham at the foot of his right hand post.

Blake and Finch were still as threat, but as at Coalville at the weekend, Thomas Baillie’s side showed that they know how to protect a lead and as Leiston began to fade they almost went two up in the 79th minute when a close range attempt from Shariff looped over Garnham to come back off the bar, with Grocott’s shot from the rebound being deflected behind.

Albi Skendi then had a thunderous drive fizz narrowly wide as did Jordan Williams with three minutes to go and when Knights put a header wide from a corner as the game headed into added time Stratford had three more vital points safely in the bag for their long journey home.

TOWN: Laurence Bilboe, Chris Cox, Cody Fisher, Jimmy Fry, (Mo Sebbeh-Njie 77), Lewis Wilson, Jordan Williams, Nabil Shariff, Albi Skendi, Mike Taylor (Dan Creaney 88), Will Grocott, Wilson Carvalho (Kai Williams 90+3). Unused subs: Tom Fishwick & Ross Etheridge (GK).

LEISTON: Marcus Garnham, Kyle Hammond, Seb Dunbar, Noel Atkins, Joe Jefford (c), Harry Knights, Josh Cheetham (Harrison Bacon 70), Matt Rutterford, Matt Blake, Dominic Docherty, Christy (Louie Bloom 82). Unused subs: Charlie Canham, Rob Eagle & Joe Porter

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