FA Trophy reaction: Leiston 3 Paulton Rovers 2
Leiston moved into the third qualifying round of the FA Trophy with a battling performance against Bristol-based Paulton Rovers on Saturday.
Two goals to the good at half-time, through Joe Jefford and Tom Winter, Richard Wilkins side appeared to be cruising to victory.
However, a sloppy start to the second half and a determined effort from Paulton saw the visitors pull goals back through Brandon Barnes and Dean Evans.
In the end it took a deflected Leon Ottley-Gooch effort to seal the deal for the Suffolk side – they deserved the victory but made harder work of it than they should have.
The FA Trophy is a competition Leiston have not been in long enough to have had the most decent of runs, with it being open to Step 4 clubs and above.
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But these days and sitting in the upper echelons of the Ryman Premier League, there is no reason the Blues should not look on the trophy as being well within their grasp to impress in.
On Saturday they certainly impressed from the off.
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Solid at the back and busy in midfield, Conor Hubble and his team-mates had Paulton all over the show – the west country team probably wondering if the seven-hour coach journey on Friday was worth it.
Wave after wave of Blues attacks, with Hubble to the fore, came and went, starting in the fourth minute when Winter shot over after good work by Stuart Boardley and the irrepressible Hubble.
A last-ditch tackle by Paulton skipper Scott Brice denied Winter again after Gareth Heath put him through. But in the 26th minute the visitors’ resistance was over. A corner was swung in and Leiston skipper Jefford rose highest to head home.
Patrick Brothers was another lively customer for Leiston and his shot was well saved by visiting keeper Kyle Philips as the home side continued strongly.
However, if the home team thought the visitors would roll over, they were given a warning by Barnes – Paulton’s best player – who danced past Blake Saker and into the area, before prodding his shot onto the post.
It shook Leiston into life as Winter made the most of an awful mix-up in the Paulton defence to fire home a second just before the break.
That should have been that. But Paulton were sent out early during half-time by their management team to stand in the cold Suffolk air and reflect on their first 45 minutes.
It seemed to do the trick, as goals from Barnes (55 minutes) and Evans (66) – admittedly both aided by some average home defending – levelled things up.
It was time for Leiston to show some character and they did so – with a little fortune – Hubble’s 20-yard shot deflecting off Ottley-Gooch and into the net. The home side were back in front again and this time, they were not letting Paulton off the hook.
Leiston: Gay, Saker, Boardley, Mitchell (Parker 46), Jefford, Tann, Winter, Heath, Ottley-Gooch, Hubble, Brothers. Subs not used: Merritt, Black, Rossis.
Paulton: Philips, Ansen, Tovey (Flint 85), Wiliams, Brice, Barnes, Knowles, Bryant, Wilson (Gibbons 85), Davies (Jefferies 70). Unused sub: Jefferies.
Referee: Mr Jon Block