Leiston beaten at St Ives by early penalty in relegation scrap
- Credit: Archant
St Ives Town 1 Leiston 0
Leiston remain in a relegation battle after suffering a narrow defeat at lowly rivals St Ives Town in a tight encounter at Westwood Road tonight.
A win for Glen Driver's men would have seen them move 10 points clear of their hosts, who are third-from-bottom and one place clear of the relegation zone, but instead that gap has been cut to four.
A 12th minute penalty by home skipper Robbie Parker proved the difference between the two sides on a frustrating night for the Suffolk visitors.
It was a scrappy first half, punctuated by plenty of fouls, with Leiston struggling to create any chances of note. A long-range shot by Robert Harvey was deflected wide on four minutes, while a foul on Jake Hutchings four minutes later ended with Byron Lawrence curling his free-kick a foot wide.
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But St Ives took the lead in the 12th minute, from their first real attack. A mis-timed challenge by Hutchings gifted the hosts a penalty, and Parker calmly slotted home the ensuing spot kick.
Leiston mounted an attack on 23 minutes, from which Rob Eagle's cross was nearly converted at the far post by John Sands, who was unsighted by a defender as the ball hit his foot and rolled wide.
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St Ives had a great chance to double their lead in the 34th minute when Ed Hottor shrugged off the challenge of Lawrence and ran half the length of the pitch. He teed up John Dean, who dragged his shot wide of target.
Sam Donkin had to be alert to back-pedal and fingertip a cross-cum-shot by Ben Toseland over the bar, as the home side ended the half on top, while early in the second half Leiston were saved by the woodwork, a glancing header by Curtis ricocheting off the bar.
For the Blues, Kyle Hammond squandered a good opportunity at the far post, from Ollie Saunders' fine delivery in the 65th minute, and soon afterwards John Sands was thwarted by a point-blank range save by keeper Conway.
A double save by Conway protected the hosts' lead. He parried Josh Hitter's well-struck shot and then recovered to keep out the follow-up effort from fellow substitute Ryley Scott.
St Ives held on despite finishing the match with 10 men following Hotter's late dismissal, and a late onslaught from Leiston.
LEISTON: Donkin, Hammond, Saunders, Christian-Law (sub Henry, 63), Keys, Hutchings, Lawrence, Aitkens, Harvey, Sands (sub Hitter, 73), Eagle (sub Scott, 63). Unused subs: Skubich, Garnham.