BLUES PAY THE PENALTY
Leek Town threw away a one-goal lead as Market Drayton leap-frogged Blues in the league table with a 2-1 victory in a game decided by two controversial penalty decisions at Greenfields on Saturday.
Drayton netted the winner from the spot midway through the second half after Paul McMullen’s effort two minutes from the break had cancelled out Devon Gibson’s opener.
Blues’ protests at the penalty, awarded against skipper Andy Taylor for an alleged foul on Martyn Davies, were more than justified as the fortunate Davies got up to find the net from the spot.
Although they didn’t play well in a dour second half, Blues were looking to get something out of the game when they were again undone by another controversial penalty decision that didn’t go their way when Dan Cope was clearly hauled down from behind by two defenders.
After the game Blues’ boss Neil Cox said, “Although we were down to bare bones I was really disappointed with the result and the way we played.
“We were poor on the day and it looked like one or two had taken their foot off the peddle now that we have avoided relegation.
“Looking ahead to Saturday’s home game against Shepshed it looks as though I will have to patch the side up yet again with two more of the squad unavailable” he added.
Cox was again without Richard Minor, Paul Taylor, Carl Allen, Rob Hawthorne and Tom Sellers through injury whilst on-loan duo Sylvanus Bockarie and Ben Knight from Burton Albion were unavailable.
Cox therefore took the opportunity to give new signing Matthew Woolley his debut in midfield whilst former Drayton midfielder Jamie Haynes dropped back into a full back role.
Leek started well pushing Drayton back into their own half and on four minutes Anthony Malbon spread the ball wide to Leigh Skellern whose cross-shot dipped inches over the crossbar.
Blues came close again in the 12th minute when Christian Millar played a free kick wide for Devon Gibson who drove a cross to the far post but Skellern steered his header wide of the target.
In the 17th minute Blues almost took the lead when Gibson rose to head down for Skellern who turned superbly to work an opening only for home keeper Andrew Pryce to pull off a brilliant point-blank save.
Leek then won a free kick down the left side of the box but when Wayne Corden played the ball back to the 18-yard line Millar blasted his shot over the crossbar.
Drayton’s first chance of any note came in the 23rd minute when a mistake by Andy Taylor resulted in a free kick on the edge of the box. However, Nick Porter wasted the chance firing wide of the upright.
Drayton came close in the 29th minute but when former Leek striker Dorryl Proffitt burst into the box, Taylor got in a superb tackle to deny him.
A minute later the Blues area survived a goal-mouth scramble before they took the lead in fine style.
Gibson intercepted a wayward pass midway in the Drayton half and raced goalwards before drawing Pryce off his line and then slipping the ball wide of him into the unguarded net.
The goal prompted Drayton into life and three minutes later Danny Roberts was forced to punch out a corner but Malbon lost the ball and then conceded a free kick 25 yards out only for Porter to drive wide of the target.
A minute later Drayton attacked again but when a cross came in from the left the ball flew across the face of goal and Proffitt was unable to get a boot on it.
Leek won a free kick in the 38th minute but when Matt Johnson played the ball in-field for Woolley his on-target shot failed to trouble the keeper.
Five minutes later Corden drove a corner to the back post where Mark Ruddock got up highest only to power a header narrowly over the crossbar.
Two minutes from the break Drayton levelled the scores when a low corner to the edge of the box evaded a Blues’ defender.
The ball then sat up nicely for Paul McMullen to drive in a powerful shot that saw Roberts go down to get a glove on it but he only succeeded in helping the ball into the back of the net.
Two minutes into the second half only another superb piece of defending by Taylor prevented Drayton taking the lead and then Roberts had to be alert saving from Rob Stevenson who began causing problems at the back for Leek.
But Leek weathered the early storm and in the 53rd minute Malbon did well down the left before turning into the box to set up Skellern who got in a good shot that was blocked with Blues appealing for a penalty that was turned down.
Drayton took the lead in the 63rd minute when a mistake by Corden led to Davies racing into the box with Taylor in pursuit. Davies went down, the ref pointed to the spot and the home striker picked himself up to send Roberts the wrong way.
Drayton continued to push forward and in the 65th minute Stevenson put in another good run but could only find the side-netting.
In the 68th minute Leek came close to levelling the scores when Corden hoisted a free kick into the box and Dan Cope rose highest to get a head on it but Pryce was well placed to claim the ball.
Mystery surrounds Blues’ genuine appeals for a penalty in the 72nd minute as Cope burst into the box with two defenders in his wake. But despite almost having his shirt torn from his body and then being hauled to the grown by the joint actions of both defenders, the referee amazingly turned down the appeals.
In the latter stages of the game Cope had a shot deflected wide and Corden saw his shot deflected straight at the keeper.
Drayton came close to extending their lead in the 87th minute but with only Roberts to beat Tom Rogers lifted a shot over from close range and then Leek were forced to clear a corner off the line.
Market Drayton: Pryce, Turton, Jones, Francis, McMullen, Stallard, Porter, Humphreys, Proffitt (Rogers 80), Davies, Stevenson (Garratt 85). Unused subs: Spooner.
Leek: Roberts, Haynes, Johnson, A Taylor, Ruddock, Woolley, Gibson (Rutter 75), Millar, Malbon, Skellern (Cope 65), Corden. Unused subs: Heeps.