John Sands makes debut as Leiston lose at home to Margate in Ryman Premier

John Sands, in action for former club Bury Town

John Sands, in action for former club Bury Town - Credit: Andy Abbott

Leiston missed out on the chance to climb into the Ryman Premier Division play-offs last night with a 1-0 defeat to title-hunting Margate.

The defeat was harsh on the Suffolk side, who gave a debut to John Sands, in a game of few chances.

The first half was goalless, but wasn’t short of quality with both sides looking dangerous going forward with pace.

Great persistence from Leiston’s Gareth Heath in the third minute, closing down Nikki Bull, presented Joe Francis with a golden chance but the winger was just sandwiched out by two Margate defenders as the goal gaped.

The pace of Francis, Heath, and new-boy Sands will be sure to be torment opposition defenders from now until the end of the season, with the trio certainly keeping Margate on their toes throughout.

And it was Heath, playing just behind the striker, who narrowly headed over after Blake Saker turned Brett Johnson inside out on the right-hand side midway through the half.

High-flyers Margate, battling for automatic promotion, struggled to create much in a tight opening half, but Danny Gay had to be alert to keep out Lewis Taylor’s ambitious 35-yard drive.

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Sands then had a couple of half-chances, but his acrobatic and speculative efforts flew wide as the half ended.

Two minutes into the second period, the game changed when ex-Colchester United striker Freddie Ladapo excellently raced onto a long ball and finished with a precise first-time finish.

Sands then had a great chance to get his Leiston career off to a dream start in the 60th minute, but he agonisingly rolled his left-foot shot wide following a smart turn in the box. Margate then seemed to shut up shop. Leiston left-winger Francis grew quieter in the second period as marker Tamberson Eyong tightened up, with the defender producing a fine block in the 84th minute, just as Francis was about to pull the trigger.

Try as they might, the Blues couldn’t force an equaliser and fell to their seventh home league defeat of the season.

Leiston: Gay, Saker, Boardley, Jefford, Bullard (c), Cunningham (Mills 73), Mitchell, Brothers, Francis, Heath, Sands. Subs not used: Mayhew, Winter, Merritt, Rossis.

Margate: Bull (c), Eyong, Rents, Johnson, Wassmer, Gerring, Riviere, L.Taylor, Moore, Lapado (J.Taylor 83), Moss. Subs not used: Wills, Attwood, Bennett, Cash.

Referee: Nick Cooper

Attendance: 207.

AFC Sudbury’s match at Thamesmead, in Ryman North, was postponed after a pitch inspection, while Witham Town defeated Harrow Borough, 3-1, in the Ryman Premier.

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