BLUES COMPLETE SPORTING DOUBLE
Leek Town completed the double over a dogged Mickleover side at Harrison Park on Saturday but it wasn’t a great spectacle.
Blues ‘won ugly’ as they say in football parlance but a win is a win and in the end Leek deserved to take the points.
Blues were leading 2-0 with a brace from leading scorer Tim Grice until a minute from the break when the visitors pulled one back from the spot.
Two minutes into the second half though, Sports were up against it when they had a man sent off for a reckless challenge on Dan Shelley.
From there on in, Blues founds it difficult to break down the visitor’s defence until the last minute of normal time when Lee Morris made sure of the points.
Caswell went into the game making one enforced change to his stating line-up with Glynn Mellor drafted in to replace the unavailable Michael Thomas.
Blues were the first to show with Matt Shelley catching out the Sports’ defence with a quick free kick down the blind side for Tim Grice to chase. The Leek striker turned inside a defender but could only steer his shot wide of the near post.
Two minutes later Anthony Danylyk volleyed wide from just outside the box whilst at the other end former Derby County academy midfielder Martin Smyth saw his shot palmed wide by Ben Chapman.
In the 16th minute Andy Kinsey held the ball up well before releasing Danny Smith on a run but he delayed his cross and the chance was lost.
Leek swept into the lead in the 20th minute following good work by Bell who skipped past two defenders before setting up Grice who beat former Leek keeper Joe McCormack with an angled shot into the far bottom corner.
The visitors then hit Leek on the counter with Martin Smyth racing down the right to cross into the 6-yard box where the Blues’ keeper had to go down among the flying feet to claim the ball.
Sustained Leek pressure down the right resulted in a Danylyk shot cannoning into Grice before the big striker netted his second of the game in the 39th minute.
Grice latched onto a fine ball out of defence to race into the box and then blast the ball wide of the advancing keeper into the back of the unguarded net.
The Blues’ striker missed an opportunity to get his hat-trick when he fired over after good work by Smith whilst at the other end Mellor ended Nathan Benger’s run with a superb tackle.
Andy Kinsey headed over another Mellor throw before Sports pulled a goal back in the 44th minute.
Sharpe burst into the Leek box unchallenged and Chapman was forced to race off his line but only succeeded in bringing down the Sports’ winger with a tackle inside the box and the referee pointed to the spot.
Chapman was yellow carded and then went the right way when the kick was taken but the ball was well struck by Smyth into the bottom corner.
Mickleover found themselves down to 10 men two minutes into the second half when Kevin Grocott crudely brought down Shelley leading to a ruck as both sets of players squared up to each other.
When order was restored Grocott received a straight red card and Sports were up against it.
Leek comfortably soaked up everything the 10-men had to offer but found the visitor’s defence in no mood to concede further.
Blues worked hard enough but Sports’ rugged defence held firm despite Leek carving out a number of chances.
The lead looked vulnerable as Grice (three times), Bell, Kinsey and Shelley all wasted chances midway through the half before the game entered its final stages.
However, the victory was ensured in the 89th minute when Grice was denied his hat-trick by a goal-line clearance.
The ball fell to Steve Brannan whose shot was also cleared off the line but Lee Morris followed up with an opportunist strike latching onto the loose ball to drill it into the back of the net from just outside the 6-yard box.
Leek: Chapman, Smith, Bell, Mellor, Bradbury, Hall, Connor (Morris 69), Shelley (Brannan 76), Grice, Kinsey, Danylyk. Unused subs: Nixon, Wood.
Mickleover: McCormack, Berry, Guy, Williams, Pheasant, Wood, Smythe (Kavayt 66), Grocott, Benger (Webster 66), Ritchie-Smith, Sharpe (Steadman 60). Unused Subs: Hind, Farthing.
Yellow Card: Ben Chapman
Star man: Glynn Mellor