BLUES MAKE IT FIVE IN A ROW
Leek Town took another step towards the play-offs but had to come from behind to beat a stubborn Loughborough side at Harrison Park on Saturday reports Mike Cope.
Blues have run into a rich vein of form at just the right time having won their last five games on the bounce to consolidate their 5th place ranking in the league table.
Now Lee Casswell’s side have just five games remaining to continue their promotion challenge whilst in-form Belper, who have come with a late run to contest the final play-off place with Leek, are just five points behind with both sides scheduled to meet at Christchurch Meadow on 17 April.
Blues were not at their best during the opening half against the long ball tactics of the opposition and found themselves with some defending to do especially after Loughborough took an early lead.
However, the half-time team talk seemed to do the trick as Leek drew level early in the second half and then secured the points with two goals in a six-minute spell midway through the half from which Dynamo never recovered.
After the game Casswell said, “We had a poor first half when it looked as if the visitors were looking for promotion not us.
"But we had a chat at half time and that produced a response, we were really good in the second half and deserved the victory.
"It was a fantastic second 45 minutes - it's obvious that when Ant Danylyk and Ash Woolliscroft are pushing forward we look a lot better side.
"We showed character to come from behind so we know we can do it, we now need to score more from set pieces because we are a big side", he added.
Loughborough opened the game on the attack although Blues had the first chance in the 6th minute when Chris Millar launched a deep cross to the far post where Adam Roberts glanced a header wide of the upright.
Three minutes later, the Leek defence backed off as Jamie Clarke was allowed to continue after controlling the ball with his arm but the shot failed to trouble Chapman in the Blues’ goal.
In their next attack, Dynamo’s Luke Edwards latched onto a long ball but Guthrie did just enough to force him wide and the resulting shot rolled harmlessly into the keeper’s hands.
Loughborough continued to push Leek back and it was no surprise when they took the lead in the 16th minute.
Karl Noble hoisted a corner to the far post where Jake Betts knocked the ball back to the penalty spot from where Danny Gibbons drove an unstoppable shot between Millar and Tim Sanders into the back of the net.
Tim Grice tried to lob the keeper from distance three minutes later but his attempt dropped on top of the net.
Clarke appeared to handle again in the 22nd minute but his shot again failed to trouble the keeper.
The visitors continued to lump the ball forward at every opportunity but the Leek defence began to get on top as the half wore on until, in the 33rd minute, Chapman launched a free kick into the Dynamo box where Gibbons climbed all over Roberts from behind and went unpunished.
Five minutes from half time Leek put a great move together but when Roberts set up Grice the keeper turned his shot wide for a corner that was cleared.
After the break it was virtually all Leek and four minutes into the half the game turned in their favour when Sanders drove in a corner and George Ray got up highest to plant a towering header into the back of the net.
Loughborough responded in the 53rd minute but when Sam Young crossed from the left Clarke headed wide of the upright.
Good approach play by Leek in the 57th minute left Danylyk in space but he lifted his shot over the crossbar.
Leek swept into the lead on the hour when Millar crossed to the far post where Grice headed the ball back into the danger area and Roberts was in the right place to find the net from close range.
Six minutes later Leek were awarded a penalty when Danny Jenno brought down Grice as both challenged for the ball in the box.
Jenno was incensed at the decision but after the referee calmed things down Haddrell claimed the ball and fired wide of the keeper who had gone the right way.
Almost immediately a melee developed on the edge of the box and as a result Jenno was given a yellow card.
Despite the set-back plucky Loughborough continued to push forward but Leek were now in control although Chapman had to get down smartly to smother a header from Gibbons following a free kick.
The visitors came close again in the 81st minute when Chapman was forced to tip over a good header from Shawn Richards.
In the 86th minute Ricky Bridge did the hard work for Dan Cope who saw his shot across the keeper fall narrowly wide of the far post.
A minute later Haddrell out-jumped his marker to work himself an opening but he too shot across the keeper and wide of the target.
Deep into added time Leek created another chance when Haddrell headed down for Cope who went past a defender before getting in an angled shot that beat the keeper but Roberts arrived late and was unable to get a boot on the ball.
Leek: Chapman, Sanders, Bell, Guthrie, Danylyk (Edwards 90), Ray, Grice (Cope 75), Millar (Bridge 80), Haddrell, Roberts, Woolliscroft. Unused subs: Lane, Mellor.
Loughborough: Pearson, Jenno (Langham 81), Young, Noble, Gibbons, Betts (Sibson 78), Richards, Henton, Clarke, Edwards, Lester (Grocott 74). Unused subs: Brennan, Mann-Kler.
Star man: Ashley Woolliscroft
Photos: Malcolm Hampton