Gallery & report: Leiston 3 Lewes 1

Leiston (blue kit) V Lewes at Victory Road, Leiston.
Gareth Heath (centre) celebrates scoring the op

Leiston (blue kit) V Lewes at Victory Road, Leiston. Gareth Heath (centre) celebrates scoring the opener.

Leiston top the Ryman Premier Division table, the highest position in the club’s history, and Richard Wilkins’ side have made an impressive start to the season.

In the scorching Suffolk sun, they weren’t at their fluid best but had enough to see off a Lewes side still searching for their first win of the season.

As the second-half wore on it looked as though Leiston’s inability to kill off the game would be their Achilles heel but a late penalty sealed a deserved three points.

After a pretty stale opening quarter of an hour that saw Ronnie Conlon fire a shot at Ashlee Jones and Joe Francis lift a shot over the Lewes bar, Leiston opened the scoring.

Joe Francis stole possession off Jordan Wilson and drove forward before releasing Christy Finch whose low effort was saved by the legs of Will Godman with the ball falling to Gareth Heath who took his time before finding the net with a composed finish.

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The lead lasted eight minutes as the home side were caught out by a training pitch routine from a corner, Leon Redwood’s corner finding Elliot Levy on the edge of the box who had time to fire low into the Leiston net beyond the dive of the unsighted Jones.

Leiston struggled to get into their stride with Lewes working hard, but the home side had the ideal opportunity to regain the lead on 29 minutes as Jordan Wilson tripped Francis in the box but Heath saw his penalty comfortably saved by Will Godman.

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Five minutes later Jay Lovett passed up a good chance in the home box, his effort blocked when he really should have tested Jones.

It proved costly as on 38 minutes Leiston got their noses in front again.

Heath’s deep, teasing free kick into the box causing confusion, allowing Joe Jefford to smash home a half volley.

Early in the second half e Francis saw an effort whistle over the bar while tremendous defending from Redwood denied Christy Finch on the goal line.

Francis was beginning to dictate the play, twice waltzing through the Lewes defence but failing to have an end product.

Godman then denied John Sands when clean through before Lewes were inches away from equalising. Henry Muggeridge’s diagonal pass split Blake Saker and Jefford, allowing Nathan Crabb a run at goal and his strike looked goalbound but Jones got the faintest of touches to help push it onto the post and to safety.

Two minutes later the win was sealed as Jordan Wilson upended Francis in the box and Francis took on the penalty duties to calmly slot home and relax the home supporters.

Leiston manager Wilkins said afterwards: “We looked a little lethargic but it could have been down to them being late and the heat.

“I’m not sure but we weren’t at our best and kept giving the ball away cheaply.

“Our play was bitty and I was disappointed how we conceded before half-time.

“The second half was too end-to-end and we didn’t kill the game off and never really had control of the game.

“But that aside, it was nice to get another three important points and the start to the season has been difficult with so many games.”

Lewes manager Steve Brown, explained: “We had a terrible journey and arrived late on a bus with no air conditioning.

“But I can’t fault the players, they gave their all I have no complaints. Performance-wise I am relatively pleased but we need to find a way to stop conceding soft goals due to individual errors.

“Our keeper had a fine game and it could have been different at the end had we not hit the post.”

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