Leiston fluff their lines

WILL a Suffolk side ever crack the FA Vase?

Countless attempts have finished at the quarter-final stage, several have ended in semi-final tears and five – Sudbury Town, AFC Sudbury (three times) and Lowestoft Town – have fallen at the final hurdle.

Leiston can now be added to the list of Suffolk sides who have promised much but ultimately failed to deliver in this competition over the last quarter-of-a-century. AFC Sudbury, Bury Town, Lowestoft Town and Needham Market have all graduated from Step Five football to now compete in the FA Trophy.

If, as expected, Leiston win the Ridgeons League this season and move up to the Ryman League, it is difficult to see where a Suffolk side capable of winning the Vase in the future will come from.

Let’s pull no punches; the first ten minutes aside on Saturday at Coalville’s well-appointed Owen Street ground, Leiston were woefully second best.

The home team should have been out of sight by half time, only their profligacy in front of goal giving their visitors a glimmer of hope.

The warning signs were there as early as the 10th minute, Ryan Robbins drilling a low effort wide, and four minutes later Cameron Stuart’s free kick was met by Matt Moore, whose looping header bounced on to the top of the bar with goalkeeper Jamie Stannard caught in no man’s land.

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As the rain swept across the pitch, the Leicestershire side pressed forward, and midway through the first half should have gone ahead. Leon Ottley-Gooch gave the ball away and Anthony Carney’s left-wing cross was on a plate but with the goal gaping in front of him Moore inexplicably contrived to head against the underside of the bar.

Three minutes later Moore, who had previously scored seven times in five matches in this season’s competition, was denied by an outstanding save by Stannard, who parried away his effort destined for the top corner.

With Leiston struggling to get a foothold in the game – centre-back Zac Costello was dominant against Danny Smy – Stannard was down smartly to his left to save from Robbins.

Leiston manager Mark Morsley made two changes at the interval, but enigmatic left-winger Danny Cunningham had only been on the pitch for seven minutes when he slipped on the synthetic surface in front of the dug outs and twisted an ankle, and had to subsequently be substituted himself.

The goal, when it came 10 minutes into the second period, was a poor one to concede defensively. A right-wing cross was chested down by Moore who tried to wriggle between two defenders and as the visitors’ defence failed to clear the ball broke to Anthony Carney to sidefoot home.

Leiston’s response was to create their only real chance of the match, Patrick Brothers’ surging run down the left saw him whip the ball across the face of goal where Ottley-Gooch, at full stretch, was unable to divert his effort on target.

Thereafter Leiston huffed and puffed to little effect and the task that was already as uphill as the bank behind the goal they were defending became even more so when they were reduced to 10 men.

Neil Calver, who suffered the ignominy of being sent off for AFC Sudbury in the 2004 FA Vase final, had already been booked after half-an-hour for a foul on Robbins, so when he recklessly jumped into Carney and left him in a heap on the halfway line in the 71st minute a second yellow followed by a red was as justified as Coalville’s victory.

n Do you think the Suffolk side can win the FA Vase in the future? Send us your views to sport@eadt.co.uk