A quiet opening period saw both teams struggle to come to terms with the windy conditions and uneven bounce of the ball. The first shot a goal came when Leek’s Matt Bell hit a twenty five yard free kick over the bar. A mad scramble in the Shepshed goal mouth ended with Zeke Jenkins clearing the ball only for a quick pass to danger man Dan Cope who shot wide when well placed. Another good run from Cope saw him hold off both Screaton and Jenkins but Sturgess came to block the shot. At this point Leek, were beginning to dominate midfield and Matt Haddrells shot from twenty yards was tipped round the post by a full length dive from Martin. Shepshed’s best opportunity came after some good play down the right hand side saw Chaplins shot blocked for a corner. From the resulting kick a scramble in the area ended with an O’Connor shot blocked and the ball cleared. Two minutes later and again O’Connor was just beaten to a through ball by goal keeper Ben Chapman. Leeks breakthrough came in the thirty eighth minute when the lively Cope shot at Martin who saved a full stretch but the ball rebounded kindly to Cope who put away the chance. Shortly afterwards Shaun Martin
was booked for a late challenge. In the last minute of the first half Grice turned in the box but shot just wide. Half time 1 – 0
replaced White at the start of the second half but Shepshed were soon under the cosh. An early corner was cleared by Martin but hooked back in by Cope with the ball just brushing the bar. Leeks pressure was building and once again good play between Cope and Grice saw a shot well held by Martin. Just a minute later Leek doubled their lead when a careless pass in midfield by Martin saw the ball played quickly to Grice who punished a sleeping defence. By this time it was all Leek and another volley from Grice flashed across the goal. On the hour mark a good chance to Ashley Woolliscroft ended with him causing more danger to a passing bus than the goal! With twenty minutes to go a quickly taken free kick found Grice in the penalty area who turned Simon Hore and shot superbly in to the far corner. Shepshed immediately replaced Leighton Simmonds with Justin Jenkins who’s first contribution was to get himself booked for a late challenge on Bradbury. A rare Shepshed break saw O’Connor miss hit his shot wide. Rob Mulonga
was getting some success on the right wing and one good run ended with him being tripped in the penalty area by Ricky Bridge but Tom Maddison hit his penalty tamely and the goal keeper was able to dive to his right and grab the ball. Two minutes later the superb Grice held off Screaton and scored from a tight angle to make it four nil. With the Leek players being made aware of scores from the other matches they piled forward knowing that one more goal could well put them into the play offs. Just one minute later another shot from Grice flashed across the goal. With ten minutes to go Mulonga was fouled again and Maddisons free kick was just cleared with Chaplin waiting to pounce. Chaplin then had a shot was that deflected straight into the keepers arms, who cleared the ball and hesitant defending allowed Cope to lob the ball home from the edge of the area and put Leek into the play offs, by virtue of scoring more goals than Belper.
The final whistle was greeted by a pitch invasion from happy Leek fans who were also joined by the BWA offering their congratulation to both Leeks players and supporters alike.
Full time score 5 – 0
Shepshed. James Martin, Sturgess, Zeke Jenkins, White (Rob Mulonga
), Screaton, Hore, Shaun Martin
, Maddison, Chaplin, Simmonds (Justin Jenkins), O’Connor.
Subs not used. Krasniqi, Brewer
*PICTURES FROM LEEK TOWN*