BLUES CRASH TO COALVILLE
Blues crashed to defeat in their final home game of the season against promotion chasing Coalville on Tuesday.
Blues were three goals down at the break and fell further behind six minutes into the second half but the scoreline rather flattered the visitors as Leek went on to miss numerous gilt-edged chances.
Coalville came with the intention of bullying the Blues out of the game and their antics went largely unchecked by the generous referee whilst three Leek players entered the match official’s book and Dan Smith was sent off shortly before the break.
Depleted Leek fielded the same side that lost at home to Belper four days earlier but Manager Lee Casswell was forced to call up Furo Davies and Joe Bailey from the reserves to replace Lee Morris (inj) and Glynn Mellor (working) with both players occupying seats on the bench.
Coalville hit the ground running and in the 3rd minute they put a good move together but Jerome Murdock’s shot failed to trouble Ben Chapman.
However, the Ravens swept into the lead just a minute later when Danny Jenno curled a 20-yard free kick over the wall and into the bottom corner.
Four minutes later the visitors extended their lead when Ryan Robbins barged Michael Thomas off the ball but the whistle never came leaving Robbins to race into the box and beat Chapman from a tight angle.
Shell shocked Blues recovered and in the 9th minute Brannan crossed into the box and Tim Grice got on the end of it only for Sean Bowles to superbly tip over his crossbar.
Just one minute later Blues almost pulled a goal back when Brannan won the ball to set up Sam Hall on the edge of the box and he hammered in a full-blooded volley that had goal written all over it until Bowles pulled off a stunning point-blank save.
Brannan then drove a corner to the far post where Thomas stole in to lift a shot over the Ravens’ defence but the ball took a deflection to fall wide of the upright.
In the 19th minute Josh Hill pushed Grice over in the box but the referee wasn’t interested and from the resulting corner Thomas’s shot was blocked.
A minute later Hall attacked the visitors’ box and held off a challenge but his shot was deflected into the keeper’s arms.
Grice then fired wide with a first time effort following a good ball from Matt Shelley as Leek began to take control.
In the 25th minute Blues won a free kick just outside the box close to the goal line and when Bell fired it into the six-yard box, Bowles’ got the slightest of touches to take it away from Andy Kinsey.
Two minutes later Leek won two free kicks and a corner in quick succession but Bowles cleared the danger with a punch.
Coalville mounted an attack in the 30th minute when Callum Woodward crossed and Tom Middleton pulled a decent save out of Chapman.
Leek came close again in the 32nd minute when Shelley drove forward to hit a trade-mark drive that rifled inches wide of the far post.
But Blues were rocked back on their heels yet again when, in the 35th minute, Robbins muscled his way round the back to again find the net with another shot from a tight angle.
Matt Bradbury and Coalville’s Jerome Murdock clashed in the Leek box in the 37th minute and Bradbury was unhappy with Murdock’s antics but the referee took no action.
However, as the half drifted into added time Smith caught Woodward with a late tackle and was shown a straight red before the Ravens’ midfielder was stretchered off.
Leek began the second half brightly but Murdock must have learned from Shelley’s first half effort and he drove a stunning 25-yarder into the bottom corner before rather stupidly racing to goad the Leek bench – again no action was taken.
Grice burst into the Raven’s box in the 52nd minute and went round the keeper but then failed to get enough power in his shot. Grice then appeared to be held down by Bowles as the ball ran free but again the appeals were turned down.
Brannan went a on a fantastic run down the right in the 53rd minute before crossing deep into the box but Bell sliced his shot wide of the far post.
In the 58th minute Brannan raced into the box but the referee failed to allow the advantage bringing play back for a Blues’ free kick.
Then, on 72 minutes a brilliant ball by Hall found Grice with just the keeper to beat but the Leek striker missed the chance yet again.
Hall then drove another cross into the danger area but Shelley failed to get enough power in his header.
In the 74th minute Coalville almost extended their lead further when Middleton drove a free kick towards the near post where Anthony Carney stooped to get in a header but Chapman got down well to make the save.
In a comedy of errors on 78 minutes Brannan was brought down right in front of the assistant referee who signalled a Leek free kick but the referee overruled his colleague and awarded the kick the other way.
Five minutes from time Dave Leigh outpaced Ryan Connor but Chapman saved with his feet and then Shelley’s free kick was knocked on by Bradbury for Bell who sliced wide.
A minute into added time Blues almost got a consolation goal when Anthony Danylyk won the ball in a challenge. And, seeing the keeper off his line, he sent in a lobbed shot that cleared the back-pedalling Bowles but the ball dropped inches over the crossbar.
Leek: Chapman, Smith, Bell, Thomas, Bradbury, Hall, Brannan (Bailey 84), Shelley, Grice (Davies 79), Kinsey (Connor 45), Danylyk. Unused sub: none.
Coalville: Bowles, Jenno, Cameron (Astley 70), Middleton, Hill, Kay, Woodward (45+2), Carline, Carney, Murdock, Robbins (Leigh 57). Unused subs: Everitt, Gibson.
Yellow Cards: Matt Bell, Steve Brannan, Anthony Danylyk; Red: Danny Smith
Star man: Steve Brannan
Report: Mike Cope