Billy Clark is getting back to his best for play-off hopefuls Leiston

Billy Clark

Billy Clark - Credit: Sarah Lucy brown

Leiston manager Richard Wilkins says playmaker Billy Clark is getting closer to recapturing his best form for the Blues, following his two-goal, match-winning performance at Brentwood, on Tuesday evening.

Leiston and summer signing Clark, who suffered a cruciate ligament injury whilst playing for Bury Town in March 2014, ended a run of four straight defeats with victory in Essex – the former Ipswich Town and Bury Town midfielder playing a commanding role.

The 2-0 victory means Leiston remain in contention to gatecrash the end-of-season Ryman Premier play-offs and Wilkins, speaking ahead of today’s away clash at second-bottom Farnborough, hopes Clark will have a big role to play.

“Billy is a quality player but having had his ACL (Anterior Cruciate Ligament) reconstructed it’s taken time for him to get back to his best,” said Wilkins.

“We probably expected that to be by November, December-time but he did well on Tuesday – his first goal was fantastic and his second was a deflection.

“He is not quite playing at the levels he was before major surgery, he is somewhere in between.”

Clark was a shining light in a side missing several regulars on Tuesday night, with Patrick Brothers and Danny Cunningham out, while Gareth Heath and Christy Finch were on the bench but never in contention to play due to injury.

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As a result, in came two players that have been featuring for the reserves this season, Toby Kerslake and Jack Baker, while teenagers Will Oxbrow and Aaron Thurlow were on the bench.

“The fact that we had several players out made the win even more pleasing,” explained Wilkins, who is happy with the way the youth setup is progressing at Victory Road.

“We needed to get back on track and the likes of Toby Kerslake, Jack Baker and Stuart Boardley (player-assistant manager) came in and did well. I was pleased with everyone’s commitment.”

He added: “We have set up the under-18 and 16 teams and I always said it might take a couple of years before we see anything as a result.

“As well as Will (Oxbrow) and Aaron (Thurlow), there is also Lloyd Clark that has figured in the Ryman Premier this season, while Josh Cheetham is another player that we are looking at closely.”

The Blues are four points outside the play-offs with 12 games left to play and Wilkins is relieved that despite the coastal club’s recent run of poor form, they are still very much in contention.

“It was disappointing not to get any points out of four games, and we should have definitely taken something from the home game against Wingate & Finchley,” said Wilkins, who is sweating on the fitness of Heath and Finch today,

“We are still in with a chance but there is no god-given right at this stage of the season that any team shall beat any other.

“Farnborough have a nice pitch and hopefully we can pick up another three points and the teams around us will slip up.”

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