Whilst the final scoreline was a little bit harsh on Worksop, who may have felt the game could have been different had they taken a couple of chances at key times, there can be no doubting that this was a deserved and reasonably comfortable victory for Leek who were looking to recover from the late set back they received at Stocksbridge earlier in the week.
Neil Baker opted to go with the same starting eleven and Leek were soon into their stride with some neat passing moves developing, particularly down the right with Chris Baker putting in a couple of testing crosses.
Slightly against the run of play it was Worksop, however, who nearly took the lead after 9mins. An innocuous passage of play somehow resulted in the full back, Deegan Atherton, swinging in a cross and Leon Mettam hit a low right foot half volley that hit the post with the Leek defence giving him too much room.
After a heavy defeat in midweek the Worksop back line were looking short in confidence and, it has to be said, in pace. And they were caught out after 15 mins when the ball was won in midfield and Lewis Short was played clean through the middle. He showed composure to slot a low finish under David Reay and put Leek one up.
Worksop were certainly better going forwards and in the 20th min it took a fine save from Danny Roberts from Matthew Templeton, who was looking dangerous down Worksops left, to keep the scores level.
Worksop found joy down the left again just 2 mins later. This time it was the full back Niall Smith who outpaced Harry Goode but his low cross to the far post was scuffed wide by Linton Karkach who would have hoped to have done better.
Leek broke upfield and Tim Grice fashioned a chance for himself with a great bit of control as a deflected ball looped to him in the area. A deft touch brought the ball down in one giving him time to get an early shot away but Reay was equal to it saving with his legs and Lewis Shorts follow up effort was also well blocked.
Grice had a further effort after 32mins after another misplaced Worksop pass allowed Chris Baker to play the striker in, but his effort was straight into Reays midriff.
Grice was not to be denied, however, and scored his 180th goal for the club just 2 mins later to double Leeks lead.
Billy Reeves, once again providing the fulcrum for Leeks passing game, broke up a Worksop attack and released Baker, who carried the ball a long way before playing the ball wide to the overlapping Harry Goode. Goode produced a lovely whipped cross and Grice was able to provide the finish.
Unfortunately, there was misfortune for Grice soon after when he suffered a calf injury whilst blocking and clearing a Worksop effort from a corner and James Kirby was his replacement.
Worksop will have felt that their first half efforts merited a goal and this nearly arrived after 39mins. From another attack down the left Smith produced an excellent cross which was asking to be touched in but no Worksop player was able to reach the ball and it was turned behind for a corner. As the corner came in Matthew Reay won the header but saw his effort cleared off the line by Baker who was well placed.
HT: Worksop Town 0-2 Leek Town
At the start of the second half Worksop had an early chance after Olly Harrison conceded a free kick some 25-30 yards out, but Mettams effort was comfortable for Roberts.
Again Leek were looking good in possession with Kirby having slotted in well, holding the ball up, and linking up play nicely, and it was Kirby who put the game out of Worksops reach after 52 mins when Reays save from Shorts left footed effort rebounded to him and he was able to put the ball into the unguarded net.
Worksop should have pulled one back almost immediately from the restart as the Leek defence looked to have lost concentration after the third goal. Chadwick, for once, was beaten in the air and Harrison misjudged the bounce allowing Templeton a run in on goal. However his lifted effort over Roberts was wide and Leeks clean sheet was preserved.
Apart from another 30yd free kick which was hit over Roberts bar it would prove to be Worksops last real chance of the game as Leek tightened up, with the introduction of Stanton for Short, and looked to hit on the counterattack.
On 74 mins it was nearly four. A break down the left found Rob Stevenson who easily outpaced Atherton and played a low ball across. Kirby’s shot was hit into the ground and up, with Reay producing a great save to tip it over the bar. A minute later Kirby found himself in again at the angle but shot straight at Reay with unmarked teammates screaming for a squared ball.
Leek were now starting to find real gaps in a tiring Worksop defence and put a nice 1-2 touch move together in the 78th min. From a ball hit forward to Stevenson, he played it inside first time to Kirby who then took one touch before sliding a ball through for the onrushing Baker. Unable to get his shot away Baker squared the ball back to Kirby who looked certain to score but Reay saved well with his legs.
The final notable piece of action came in the 84th min and consisted of a fine individual Rob Stevenson effort. With the Worksop defence holding a high line the ball was played diagonally over the top and, despite the Worksop appeals, Stevenson was clearly onside and was able to run at Matthew Reay, turn him inside and out and then fire the ball past the onrushing David Reay to make the final scoreline 4-0
So a fine win for the Blues who returned to the top of the league as a result.
All eyes now turn to the FA cup with next weeks home tie against Kings Lynn which will allow Leek to test themselves against much higher opposition and is sure to provide a much sterner test.
FT: Worksop Town 0-4 Leek Town
Report by Winners Lad
Leek Town line up as follows
- Grice replaced by Kirby (37)
- Short replaced by Stanton (67)
- Stevenson replaced by Twyford (87)
Substitutes : Bott, Cortes-Smith (Unused)