Leiston continue to fly the Suffolk flag in the FA Cup following Tonbridge win
- Credit: Archant
Leiston remain Suffolk’s non-league flag bearers in this season’s FA Cup after reaching the Third Qualifying Round for the first time in five years, thanks to a 2-0 win over Tonbridge Angels.
Richard Wilkins’ side are now just two rounds away from potentially rubbing shoulders with the likes of Colchester United, Portsmouth and Sheffield United after a solid showing against fellow Ryman Premier Division Tonbridge Angels.
But they had to do it the hard way, recovering from conceding after just 58 seconds before bouncing back with a brace from John Sands and one from in-form Joe Jefford.
On a beautiful September afternoon Leiston got off to the worst possible start when Tom Phipp leapt high above the Blues defence to plant a powerful header into the left hand corner from an exquisite cross from Lee Carey after just 58 seconds.
Unfortunately the ex-Maidstone United midfielder landed badly from his header and after a lengthy delay left the field on a stretcher with a nasty leg injury.
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Leiston gradually responded and after Leon Ottley-Gooch missed a decent half chance from a Gareth Heath cross they got themselves level on 18 minutes through in-form centre half Jefford.
Stuart Boardley sent in a sweet free kick and Jefford planted his header beyond Antonio Di Bernado for his second goal this week.
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The hosts almost took an unlikely interval lead in first half stoppage time but in acres of space, a somewhat surprised Jefford saw his effort thwarted by Di Bernado.
If the first half belonged territorially to Tonbridge the second half was Leiston’s and once they got themselves in front just three minutes after the restart there was only going to be one winner.
The goal was finished with a simple tap in from Sands after Ottley-Gooch had done all the hard work, bursting through a flat footed Tonbridge defence before drawing Di Bernado and squaring to Sands for his tap in.
After Gareth Heath flashed an effort across the face of goal the home side grabbed the decisive third goal with just over 15 minutes remaining.
Seb Dunbar’s mazy run took him into midfield where Sands released Billy Clark on the right.
The ex-Bury Town man’s measured cross picked out the run of Sands who gleefully slid home his second and his side’s third much to the delight of his team-mates.
A late flying save from Ashlee Jones denied Tonbridge any chance of staging a dranatic fightback in the hope of a replay. But in truth, Leiston were too strong, certainly in the second period, and they go into today’s draw carrying Suffolk’s non league hopes with them.
Boss Richard Wilkins said: “The lads showed tremendous character to come back from a goal down inside the opening minute. It was a tough game but we looked the stronger side second half and deserved to go through.”
Skipper Tom Bullard added: “The team spirit is unbelievable at the moment which is playing such a big part in our success to date.”