Leiston get season back on right track

LEISTON'S early FA Cup exit straight after a home league defeat raised a few eyebrows around the county.The Ridgeons League side reached the first round proper of the FA Cup last season after a fairytale run in the competition that captured the imagination of non-league supporters throughout Suffolk and beyond.

Nick Garnham

LEISTON'S early FA Cup exit straight after a home league defeat raised a few eyebrows around the county.

The Ridgeons League side reached the first round proper of the FA Cup last season after a fairytale run in the competition that captured the imagination of non-league supporters throughout Suffolk and beyond.

But there was to be no repeat this time around as they bowed out in the extra preliminary round after being beaten by fellow Premier Division side Dereham Town hot on the heels of a 1-0 defeat to Walsham-le-Willows.


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However, manager Carl Chenery has seen his side string together three successive victories to put their season back on track.

Chenery said: “We have responded well to our FA Cup defeat at Dereham and our loss to Walsham-le-Willows in the league. We didn't play well in either of those games, but we have since had a good win against Needham Market and followed that up with a good win at Norwich United before beating Woodbridge away.

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“We weren't at our best against Woodbridge, who played some good football but when it came to putting the ball in the net we made it count. We have just got to make sure we keep this run going now.”

Chenery, who took over the manager's hotseat nearly two years ago after Jason Dozzell parted company with the club, was philosophical about Leiston's early FA Cup exit.

“We were very disappointed to lose the way we did at Dereham. You have to try to take the positives out of last season when we had nine games, but at the end of the season we looked back and said that it probably hindered us.

“You are never going to win the FA Cup, and although it was good for the club in terms of the exposure it gave us and the cash it brought in, our cup run didn't help us later in the season.”

Leiston's squad was stretched to the limit in the second half of the campaign as they went out of the FA Vase and were left playing catch-up with their league fixtures, seeing games in hand count for little as they were unable to close the gap on long-time leaders - and eventual champions - Lowestoft Town.

Although strikers Tes Bramble and Jamie Rowe have both left the Victory Road club since the end of last season, Leiston have tried to address the size of their squad with a string of summer signings.

Paul Berry arrived from Felixstowe & Walton United, Paul Hart from Woodbridge Town, Allicion Blake from Kirkley & Pakefield, Leon Ottley-Gooch from Ipswich Wanderers and Neil Calver and Chris Williams from Hadleigh United, although Williams has since returned to The Millfield.

“We have a bigger squad now, and we have David Head and Neil Calver coming back from injury and Lee McGlone is back from holiday,” said Chenery, who saw Danny Cunningham leave Notcutts Park on crutches after he was carried off with a knee injury on Wednesday.

Chenery said he would have to wait and see how the injury settles down before knowing whether Cunningham will be available for tomorrow's league match at high-flying Stanway Rovers, who beat Leiston 4-2 on penalties after a 2-2 draw in last season's Ridgeons League Cup final.

“They have some good quality players and we know it will be a tough game. They are capable of beating anyone, and we will have to perform better than we did against Woodbridge if we are to beat them,” he said.

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