LATE GOAL AGONY...
Leek Town were devastated after conceding a late, late goal in their quest to remain in the play-off zone that saw their herculean efforts go unrewarded at Belper on Tuesday reports Mike Cope.
Apart from a 15 minute spell mid-way through the opening half, Blues had largely dominated the game and created the better chances.
However, Belper took the lead on 34 minutes in a superb game of football and Leek deservedly netted the equaliser six minutes from full time only for the referee to indicate four minutes of added time that eventually ran into a seventh minute.
The two side were locked in battle as the four added minutes elapsed but play was allowed to continue and as a result Belper netted an extremely fortunate winner with five and a half minutes on the clock.
Play was then allowed to continue and a further minute elapsed before the referee brought the game to an end.
Needless to say the Belper contingent was ecstatic whilst the Leek players were absolutely distraught.
Leek went into the game with Matt Bradbury replacing Glyn Mellor at the back whilst Tim Grice was recalled to the starting line-up to replace Oliver Edwards.
Leek opened the game on the attack and in the opening minute they should have taken the lead when a lovely ball by Dan Cope saw Matt Bell burst into the box but his shot was scrambled wide by the keeper.
In the 11th minute Tim Sanders drove in a free kick that was headed back in by Matt Haddrell but Tim Grice volleyed straight at the keeper with an improvised overhead kick.
A minute later Blues came close again when a cross by Ashley Woolliscroft found Grice at the far post but his header dipped inches over the cross bar.
Belper carved out their first chance of the game in the 29th minute when a free kick into the Blues’ box was headed straight at Ben Chapman by Michael Simpkins.
Despite Blues’ pressure Belper took the lead in the 34th minute when Ashley Longstaff looped the ball home following a cross from the right.
Three minutes later Belper almost increased their lead when a mistake by Haddrell let in Jon Froggatt but a last ditch challenge by Bradbury cleared the danger.
Leek almost came unstuck again on 38 minutes when Charlie Weir picked up the ball following a Leek corner and ran half the length of the field before blasting his shot way over the crossbar.
Leek finished the half strongly but when Grice shot through the six-yard box just a minute from the break there was no-one on hand to apply the finishing touch.
Within a minute of the restart Froggatt had needlessly barged Leek keeper Ben Chapman into the advertising hoardings but got away with a warning from the referee.
Sanders did well in the 50th minute when he went down the right to get in a cross that caused panic in the Belper box before being cleared.
Three minutes later there was a scramble in the Blues’ box as Belper counter attacked.
A minute later Froggatt lifted a shot over the crossbar and at the other end Cope got past his marker to beat the keeper with a lofted shot that clipped the crossbar.
In the 55th minute a great cross into the box caused trouble again for Belper but Blues’ appeals for a handling offence fell on deaf ears.
Leek were now on top and another Bell cross in the 56th minute found Grice at the back post but he sliced his shot wide of the target.
Blues kept up the pressure but Ricky Bridge drove wide in the 73rd minute and then Grice worked an opening for himself before firing wide from the edge of the box.
Two minutes later a Sanders attempted clearance smashed into Longstaff and he advanced into the box only to be foiled by a good save from Chapman.
The goal that Leek had been threatening arrived in the 84th minute when Sanders crossed into the box and Haddrell swept the ball home to send the fans wild.
Chapman turned another Belper effort wide in the 87th minute but Leek continued to dominate until with five and a half minutes of added time played, Belper got the undeserved winner.
Leek were left feeling aggrieved at the amount of time added on as Belper continually opted for the time-wasting tactic that largely went unpunished as the game wore on.
Froggatt escaped his marker and burst into the box in the 96th minute to bring out a stunning save by Chapman but the ball fell back to Froggatt and this time Woolliscroft superbly blocked his effort.
Finally the ball set up kindly a third time for the league’s leading scorer and this time Froggatt drove home through a sea of legs to break Leek’s hearts.
There was still time for Leek to level a second time with approaching 7 added minutes on the clock but when Sanders drove in a free kick Haddrell got up to plant a header wide of the upright.
Belper: A Chapman, Pride (Leonard 11), Weir, Cotton, White, Simpkins (Ward 79), Rushbury (Wright 71, Warne, Froggatt, Longstaff, Adam. Unused subs: Turner, Ratcliffe.
Leek: Chapman, Sanders, Bell, Guthrie, Danylyk, Bradbury (Nixon 75), Grice, Bridge, Haddrell, Cope (Edwards 84), Woolliscroft. Unused sub: Millar, Turner, Mellor.
Star man: Ash Woolliscroft.