Leek Town
Matches
Fri 29 Mar 2024  ·  Northern Premier League - West
Leek Town
Leek Town
3
0
Stalybridge Celtic
BLUES CLOSE IN ON LEAGUE TITLE

BLUES CLOSE IN ON LEAGUE TITLE

Jonathan Eeles30 Mar - 15:20
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STEVENSON DOUBLE SINKS CELTIC

It proved to be a Good Friday indeed for Leek Town as they all but sealed the Pitching In Northern Premier League West title with a comfortable 3-0 win over a Stalybridge Celtic side who contributed to their own downfall against the runaway league leaders allowing the Blues to stroll to victory.

A defeat for second placed Prescot at Clitheroe on Saturday will mean Leek will become champions before their Easter Bank Holiday Monday local derby at Newcastle Town otherwise the Blues can clinch it, ironically, against ex-manager Neil Bakers side.

The switch of the game to Good Friday proved to be an astute one as a bumper Easter crowd of 981, including a good contingent from Stalybridge were in good voice as the game kicked off. Leek made the more positive start and took advantage to gain an early lead when top goalscorer Rob Stevenson converted a 6th minute penalty. The spot kick had been awarded after the Celtic defence had hesitated to a ball played into the area allowing Tom Carr to get a touch before a combination of keeper Luke Hewitson and full back Ethen Vaughan bundled him over with a clumsy challenge.

Leek continued to be on the front foot and were all over their opponents either winning the ball back quickly or forcing the poor pass and Liam Buckley was unlucky in just not being able to reach a good ball played forward by Olly Harrison on 10mins.

The home sides afternoon was then made easier and the visitors much harder by the sending off of Stalybridge’s Michael Brewster after 17mins. The referees whistle had already gone for an earlier foul on Marc Grocott near the left touchline, as he attempted a pass to Louis Keenan, before Brewster decided to follow through on the Leek left back with a strong and needless challenge to earn his red card.

With a man advantage Leek were able to take a complete stranglehold of the game and control the pace of play with Lucas Weir being instrumental at the centre of midfield. The home side were dominating possession but without really testing the Celtic defence to create any clear opportunities to extend their lead.

The closest the Blues came was when Buckley showed great skill to take the ball past his man on the right touchline and cut into the Stalybridge area. His low pull back was met by Stevenson with a first time effort but it was slightly scuffed and allowed Hewitson to make the save.

The game was meandering to half time before the second goal came out of nowhere on 44mins. Dan Trickett-Smith played a high ball forward for Stevenson and Carr to chase. Celtic centre-half Connor O’Grady was first to it but then headed the ball over Hewitson and into the net for an own goal.

Amazingly this was the fourth consecutive own goal in all competitions that Leek had benefited from and meant they went into the break two goals to the good.

LEEK TOWN 2 - STALYBRIDGE CELTIC 0 HT

The second half began in warming sunshine and was a repetition of the majority of the first half with Leek happy to pass the ball around without really threatening and the visitors trying to stay compact but posing no danger to the Blues back line at all.

Occasionally there was a burst of action and upping of the pace from the home side and one such spell of pressure eventually brought the killer third goal.

A Louis Keenan free kick on 54mins was taken off Julius Ndenes head at the last second by a Stalybridge defender to concede a corner. This was quickly played short and Keenan delivered another telling ball that eventually fell to the feet of Grocott whose goal bound effort was blocked and cleared by the Celtic defence. This was picked up by Weir who found Keenan on the left and he immediately played a ball around the corner for Stevenson to run onto. The striker took one touch before burying a left footed effort past Hewitson at his near post to make it 3-0 on 56mins and extend his lead at the top of the leagues goalscorer table to three goals.

With the game won the play became very processional with Leek happy with the scoreline and not exerting themselves, mindful of another game in just three days time, and Stalybridge seemingly content on damage limitation.

The only action of note was a Ndene volley that was cleared off the line on 70mins and then another volley a couple of minutes later, this time from Trickett-Smith from the edge of the area that was held by Hewitson.

Both sides used their full allocation of substitutions which did not help the flow of the game for the remainder of the half. Surprisingly, despite all the substitutions, and maybe in keeping with how each team were going through the motions the referee decided not to add on any additional time and blew the final whistle bang on the 90th minute.

LEEK TOWN 3 - STALYBRIDGE CELTIC 0 FT

The Blues edged closer to be mathematically certain of winning the division, but face a tricky game against Newcastle Town on Easter Monday, with one of their favourite alumni Neil Baker in the opposing dug out. Please get there early as there is likely to be a bumper crowd.

REPORT BY WINNERS LAD

Match Highlights courtesy of Rocketman - HERE

Post Match Interview courtesy of Moorlands Sports Radio - HERE

Photo Gallery courtesy of Jim Booth - HERE

  1. Visser
  2. Buckley
  3. Keenan
  4. Ndene
  5. Harrison
  6. Green
  7. Grocott replaced by Reilly (65)
  8. Weir
  9. Carr replaced by Grice (59)
  10. Trickett-Smith
  11. Stevenson replaced by Opoku (70)

Substitutes : Bavington, Parke
Attendance : 981

Match details

Match date

Fri 29 Mar 2024

Kickoff

15:00

Attendance

981

Competition

Northern Premier League - West

League position

1
Leek Town
10
Stalybridge Celtic
Team overview
Further reading

Team Sponsors

Club Sponsor - F Ball & Co
Community  Partner - Leek Building Society
Club Sponsor - M + M Group
Club Sponsor - LILA Connect
Club Sponsor - Buxton and Leek College
Club Sponsor - Faulkner Powell
Club Partners - KMF Group
Club Sponsor - Staffordshire Moorlands Chamber of Commerce
Club Sponsor - Railtrail Tours
Club Sponsor - MC Cleaning
Club Sponsor - MC Janitorial
Ladies Sponsors - Protech Electrical
Club Sponsor - LSGK Accountants