GALLERY: Leiston held to draw with Met Police in Ryman Premier Division

Leiston v Met Police

Leiston v Met Police - Credit: Su Anderson

A late penalty from Leiston’s Joe Francis saw the Blues share the spoils with Metropolitan Police on Saturday – repeating last season’s scoreline between the two sides.

In truth, the final result was about right as Francis cancelled out Elliot Taylor’s excellent 27th minute opener, although Leiston could quite easily snatched all three points as Craig Parker, Tom Winter, Cliff Akurang and Gareth Heath all went close.

Following another slow start adding to Tuesday’s disappointment, boss Steve Ball was pleased and frustrated in equal measures at the final whistle: “Their manager has just said to me that he’s happy with a point – I am and I’m not,” Ball said.

“I thought Met Police started the stronger and deservedly went one up.

“But I do feel we came far more into it and ultimately got a deserved equaliser, and could’ve even nicked it at the end but with the current state of the squad which I keep banging on about I’ll probably take a point here.”

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This was a classic game of two halves; Met Police bossed possession early on with striker Bradley Hudson-Odoi a real handful for the Blues’ back-line.

And it was Hudson-Odoi who played a key part in Met Police’s 27th minute goal as, following a Leiston free-kick that was launched deep into the area, the striker provided the platform and pass on the breakaway for galvanising right-back Taylor to finish with aplomb.

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Met Police had earlier threatened when a great save from Danny Gay denied Ryan Watts, with Blake Saker, playing at left-back due to Stuart Boardley’s unavailability and Patrick Brothers’ injury, clearing the impressive Ty Smith’s effort off the line on the rebound.

Ball stood with his hands on hips at one point in the first period as the ghosts of Tuesday evening’s defeat, when Leiston lost to East Thurrock, floated around a Victory Road ground which played host to several Ipswich Town, Norwich City, Chelsea and Millwall season ticket holders on Non-league Day in a healthy crowd of almost 200.

A tactical re-shuffle from Ball saw Michael Brothers move out wide with Winter dropping in behind lone frontman Akurang, and this nearly paid dividends as a dazzling run from Francis found Winter in the box – but the youngster could only watch on in anxiety as his across-the-body left-foot effort rebounded to safety off the post.

Akurang headed over from six yards when well positioned, and Parker forced a save from Stuart Seale as the Blues finished the half on top.

And they carried that momentum into the second half as, with more fire in their bellies, they upped the ante.

Another mazy run and cut-back from Francis just nine minutes into the half presented Parker with a golden opportunity but through a combination of goalkeeper and defender, the ball somehow stayed out of the net.

From the resultant corner, Adam Tann rose highest but his header flew agonisingly wide.

Winter also fizzed another effort narrowly wide, as did the full-of-running Heath. Leiston’s luck was seemingly out but the Metropolitan Police rearguard was finally breached after lively substitute Jack Simmons won the Blues a penalty in the 76th minute after being tugged back in the area.

It was quite a controversial one at that as Simmons won the spot-kick while the unfortunate Charlie Collins lay in agony with a bad leg injury some 40 yards away on the half-way line.

In fairness, the Leiston attack never saw Collins on the floor and with the passage of play so far away, as well as it not being a head injury, the referee had every right to continue play.

The Met Police management too had no complaints.

Francis held his nerve to fire home and from then on in it was end-to-end stuff as Winter flashed a header wide for the Blues while Gay brilliantly denied Smith, but neither side added to the scoreline.

Leiston: Gay, Ottley-Gooch, Saker, Jefford (c), Tann, Heath, Brothers (Simmons), Parker, Winter, Francis, Akurang. Unused subs: Noy, Levett, and Rossis.

Metropolitan Police: Searle, Taylor, Riccardo, Sutherland, Salmon (c), Crook, Smith, Collins (Hall), Watts, Charles (Knight), Hudson-Odoi. Unused subs: Harlington, Aldred, and Kosakis.

Attendance: 192

Referee: Matt Buonassisi

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