COX DEPARTURE OVERSHADOWS VICTORY
Leek Town’s narrow victory over Quorn on Saturday was overshadowed by manager Neil Cox’s announcement that he was quitting the club for personnel reasons.
Cox stunned the players after the game with the news that he was leaving the club with immediate effect.
With nothing at stake for either club in the final two weeks of the season, Blues looked to complete their first ‘double’ of the campaign after beating Quorn on their own patch in February.
In a dour game, during which Leek carved out the better chances whilst the visitors played the better football, a single strike by leading marksman Dan Cope and a man-of-the-match display from goalkeeper Danny Roberts, earned the Blues all three points.
After the game, Cox said “This was a good result and it also happened to be our first ‘double’ of the season.
“We didn’t play well but we worked hard as a team and deserved the points in the end.
“We were struggling for bodies today and one or two had to play through the pain barrier so the result was a bonus for us”, he added.
Cox went into the game with a host of players missing including long term injury victims Carl Allen, Richard Minor, Tom Sellers and Rob Hawthorne whilst Mark Ruddock and Matt Johnson were unavailable and Jamie Haynes was tucked up in bed suffering the effects of flu.
However, the Blues’ boss was able to recall defender Paul Taylor, who had recovered from injury, whist loanees Ben Knight and Sylvanus Bockarie from Burton Albion made their last appearances before returning the Brewers.
Leek came close to opening the scoring in the 6th minute when Wayne Corden played a clever cross into the box and Anthony Malbon got the faintest of headers in but the ball was booted clear by the startled keeper.
Leek skipper Andy Taylor came to the rescue just a minute later to break up a Quorn raid with a timely tackle.
In the 13th minute Ben Knight drove a free kick into the box and Matt Nurse punched clear only as far as Matt Woolley but he lifted his shot over from just outside the box.
Three minutes later Quorn came close when Ashley Robinson crossed in for Liam Turner but he hooked the ball over the crossbar from close range.
Dan Cope held the ball up well in the 18th minute but, after swapping passes with Anthony Malbon, his shot from the edge of the box failed to trouble the keeper.
Just one minute later Blues came close again when Roberts launched a free kick deep into the Quorn box and Devon Gibson stole in round the back but his snap-shot flew inches wide of the far post.
Quorn responded in the 28th minute when former Leek midfielder Sam Wood saw his 30 yard free lick dip inches over the crossbar.
A good shot from Kris Nurse in the 37th minute was competently dealt with by Roberts who commanded his area well throughout the game.
Two minutes into the second half Leek took the lead when Malbon took on the Quorn defence to cross low to the near post where Cope nipped in the rap the ball home from a couple of yards out.
Three minutes later Quorn thought they’d equalised when Wood drove in a corner and the ball was flicked into the roof of the net but the effort was ruled out by the offside flag.
In the 56th minute Quorn almost equalised when Wood swung in another corner and the ball was cleared only as far as Tom Byrne who smashed in a shot that produced a brilliant reaction save from Roberts.
On the hour mark a mistake by Bockarie let in Turner who crossed for Nurse but he was denied by another fine save from Roberts.
Less than a minute later Woolley played a good ball into the box for Malbon who stumbled before regaining his feet only to shoot straight at the keeper.
Roberts stood tall in the 62nd minute to keep out an effort from Nurse whilst at the other end Malbon’s high ball for Cope saw him burst into the box but his shot was deflected into the keeper’s arms.
Cox then brought himself on in place of Bockarie in what turned out to be the manager’s swan song and he tightened things up at the back to protect the lead.
In the 70th minute Woolley played another neat ball in for Cope who went past two defenders before delivering a cross into the box but Malbon headed wide of the target.
Quorn pushed hard during the last ten minutes of the game but Leek defended well and Roberts was in no mood to concede as Blues picked up all three points.
Leek: Roberts, Knight, P Taylor, A Taylor, Bockarie (Cox 64), Woolley, Gibson (Skellern 68), Millar, Malbon (Rutter 75), Cope, Corden. Unused subs: Heeps.
Quorn: M Nurse, Marriott, Lyall, Mathews, Gray, Robinson, Wood, K Nurse, Turner, Byrne. Unused subs: Peel, Richards, Almond, Shawn.