Another comeback and strong second half performance from the Blues saw them take all 3 points from injury ravaged Carlton Town. The weather was truly atrocious from the start with the rain only easing 15mins before the final whistle, and if this weather had continued the referee may have had to call it off.
Leek started brightly and endeavoured to keep to their footballing philosophy of passing the ball, this was clearly going to hampered by the weather and the length of grass at Stoke Lane. As early as the third minute Carlton struck from range but the ball sailed over the bar, almost immediately Leek were on the attack with Will Saxon playing a neat one-two with Matt Bell, with the cross being cut out.
The Millers then struck in the form of Arron Opoku in the 8th minute when a long ball was flicked into has path, defender Darren Chadwick intercepted the ball only to pull up sharply leaving Opoku to shoot unchallenged leaving a surprised Danny Roberts rooted to his line. Chadwick was substituted immediately for Lewis Short, whilst Louis Keenan moved into the centre of defence.
Leek went on the attack immediately with Saxon forcing a corner, the corner was delivered deep to edge of the box where Harrison headed back into the mixer only for resulting shot from Grice to be smothered by the impressive Jack Steggles. The resulting passage of play saw Leek push with Carlton defending well. Steggles denied Grice again from a through ball from Dan Trickett-Smith. Mintues later Saxon tried to shepherd a ball out for a corner but was pushed to the ground, the referee was not interested and awarded a goal kick.
On 19minutes the game nearly boiled over when Billy Reeves was scythed down by Tom Maddison, a mixture of frustration and the conditions resulting in a yellow card. Leek continued to push for the equaliser with Bell having a shot charged down and the minutes later a neat move involving Saxon, Trickett-Smith & Grocott saw the latter just drag his shot wide.
Just before the half hour mark the ball was played into Grice who was fouled from behind, a quick free kick saw the ball fall to Dan Trickett-Smith who clipped the post with his effort. Carlton continued to battle and it was Opoku again who squeezed a shot off. The counter attack from the Blues amounted to nothing as the referee blew the whistle for half time and the heavy rain continued to beat down.
HT Carton Town 1 - Leek Town 0
The constant heavy rain was impacting the playing surface with a large puddle in the goal mouth and down the touchline but play continued in the second half. Leek had renewed vigour and were moving the ball very well despite the conditions. Grice fed Saxon whose cross was cut out for a corner only for the impressive Steggles to palm it away once more for another corner. Just minutes later Grice passed to Grocott whose delicate cross just evaded Trickett-Smith at the far post.
On 54 minutes the homes side resolve was finally broken, it was Grice again who found Saxon in the box who jinked one way and the another before he played the ball wide right to an on rushing Dan Trickett-Smith who hit a fierce low drive across Steggles for the ball to nestle in the far corner, a comeback was on the cards as Leek were in the ascendency.
Tommy Brookbanks brought on fresh legs for Carlton in form of Sam Whitton for Tyler Johal on 58 minutes, and as Leek consolidated Carlton came into the game much more for 10 minutes. However Leek rode out this brief spell and began to create more chances.
On 62 minutes a higher ball was driven into Trickett-Smith who chested to Grice for his rasping shot to be saved by Steggles once again. This resulted in several exquisite corners from Trickett-Smith who was having a bigger influence on the game as it progressed. On 68 minutes he was fouled in midfield with the resulting free kick cleared for yet another corner.
Trickett-Smith delivered a deep in-swinging corner to the far post which was met firmly by both Olly Harrison & Leon Ashman, it was Ashman who got the decisive touch and was credited with the goal but a cost to both players. There was a lengthy stoppage whilst both received treatment for head wounds, the game re-started and Ashman rejoined several minutes later.
Leek weren't content to sit on their lead and few minutes later it was Trickett-Smith again who slipped the ball to Saxon on the right, the referee blew for a marginal offside and elected to book Saxon for shooting after the whistle which seemed harsh.
Before the final whistle Grice was denied again and Leek were getting more joy from left and craft of Lewis Short, there was time for one more chance as Bell fed Grice who passed to Walford who chanced his arm just dragging his shot wide.
The final whistle was greeted with jubilant cheers from the travelling faithful who endured some truly horrendous weather over the course of the game. Few would argue that Leek deserved their victory and perhaps could have scored more on another day.
FT Carlton Town 1 - Leek Town 2
Report by More News From Nowhere
Leek Town line up as follows
Starman: Full team effort from every player today
Substitutes : Bavanganga, Kirby (unused)
Attendance : 163