Big ‘six-pointer’ for Ryman Premier leaders Leiston at Havant & Waterlooville
Less than three months into the season and Ryman Premier Division leaders Leiston head into their first “six-pointer” of the campaign, at third-placed Havant & Waterlooville this afternoon.
It’s a quick reverse of the opening day fixture that saw Glenn Driver’s side beat the Hawks 3-1 in an impressive display.
Havant come into the game having suffered just their second defeat of the season on Tuesday – a last minute goal giving bottom-placed Met Police all the points.
The Hawks are the bookies’ favourites and a win could send them top, dropping Leiston as low as fourth pending other results.
After a disappointing FA Cup defeat last Saturday at Westfields, the Blues bounced back in midweek at Brantham Athletic in the Suffolk Premier Cup.
The experienced Gareth Heath, while disappointed at the FA Cup exit, was pleased his side had the chance to quickly move on in midweek.
“Tuesday’s game was important for us,” said the Blues’ influential midfielder.
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“We needed a game quickly after Saturday and it was a comfortable win.
“Last Saturday was massively disappointing for everyone as we knew we wouldn’t get a better chance to reach the First Round Proper of the FA Cup. But it’s time to put that to bed and move on.”
A lot of pressure is on the Hawks to return to the National League South after their relegation last season and Heath explained: “There is a lot of hype as they have high ambitions to win the league, plus they will be looking to get one over us after we beat them on the opening day.
“But we’ll approach the game just as we have every other, we have great confidence and belief in ourselves to get a positive result.
“If we all give 100% I’m sure we will get something from the game.”
Leiston have topped the table for two months now but can they sustain their excellent start?
A confident Heath said: “If we keep performing as we are why shouldn’t we stay up there?
“We are obviously targeting a top five finish and so far we’ve been lucky with injuries and suspensions as they have come individually rather than in groups.
“Christmas and the turn of the New Year will see if we can continue to challenge.
“The pitches start getting heavier and it’s a lot colder but if we can add an extra five or 10% effort then that could set us up for a very strong finish. I am a little surprised it’s gone so well so far but the management team has great belief in us and there is so much character and determination in the group to succeed.
“That is why we are where we are. If we keep performing we will do alright.”
Today the Blues welcome back Ipswich Town loanee Jacob Marsden in goal following injury.
But leading scorer Matt Blake is still a week away from returning, while Seb Dunbar is also out for two or three weeks with a hamstring injury.