LAST GASP GOAL SEALS HOME PLAY-OFF SEMI-FINAL
By Stevie R
Blues secured third spot and a home semi-final in the play-offs in dramatic fashion when a late goal gave them a 1-0 win at Colwyn Bay.
Neil Baker’s side just had to avoid defeat to make the play-offs but with there three rivals all winning late on in the afternoon, they were set for fifth spot or missing out altogether if they conceded.
This made for a very tense afternoon on a day of horrendous wet and windy weather on the North Wales coast.
Baker named an unchanged starting eleven, but club record scorer Tim Grice returned after injury to claim a seat on the bench.
Leek were almost ahead in the first minute when they won a corner which was knocked against his own crossbar by a home defender.
Dan Trickett-Smith hit a good low free-kick on 4 minutes from almost 30 yards but it sailed just wide off the post.
Blues continued to have the better share of possession and territory but did not create too much until the 34th minute when Trickett-Smith plated in Rob Stevenson but he placed his shot just wide.
Stevenson had another chance four minutes later when he latched on to a bouncing ball in behind the Bay defence and tried a first time lob, that cleared the keeper but also the crossbar.
Danny Roberts had little to do in the Leek goal in the opening half but he was called into action five minutes after the break to parry a drive from Lassana Mendes. Town failed to clear and Danny Andrews effort was cleared off the line by Lewis Short.
Four minutes later Bay went even closer when Ash Woods was played in and he shot past Roberts but the ball cannoned off the far post to safety.
Momentum then switched the other way as Stevenson saw his low shot from 20 yards skid past the post on the hour mark.
On 68 minutes Jordan Johnson saw home keeper Paddy Rutter go full length to beat away his fierce effort.
Two minutes later Rutter made an even better save to tip over a curling effort from Trickett-Smith. Shortly afterwards the Blues midfielder tried an audacious back-heeled effort from eight yards that Rutter got down well to save.
Leek had the ball in the net in the 74th minute when following a goalmouth scramble, Niall Maguire back-heeled the ball home from almost on the goal line, but it was ruled out for offside.
Three minutes later Trickett-Smith burst into the box and rounded the keeper but the angle was too tight for him to get ab effort on goal.
Baker brought on Tim Grice with three minutes left and the move was the catalyst for the goal.
Grice won a header just inside the Bay half but was adjudged to have been fouled. From the resulting free-kick, Short found Grice just inside the area and his looping header had Rutter back=pedalling.
He could only parry the ball to keep it out and it was gleefully slammed home by Trickett-Smith following up.
Town safely saw out three minutes of added time without undue alarm to claim the three points which ensured they finished third and set-up a home play-off semi-final against Colne on Wednesday evening, kick-off 7.45pm at Harrison Park.
1. Danny Roberts
2. Niall Green
3. Lewis Short
4. Marc Grocott
5. Darren Chadwick
6. Jack Sanders
7. Niall Maguire (12. Charlie Walford, 90)
8. Billy Reeves
9. Jordan Johnson (15. Tim Grice, 87)
10. Dan Trickett-Smith (16. Scott Lycett, 90)
11. Rob Stevenson
Unused subs: 14. Rio Adebisi, 17. Ben Chapman