Leiston gift-wrap the goals to Rushden, as Diamonds shine bright on a dull afternoon
PUBLISHED: 11:26 02 December 2018 | UPDATED: 12:01 02 December 2018
Leiston 1 AFC Rushden & Diamonds 4
A minute’s silence was observed for Leiston’s popular financial board member, Keith Cracknell, who sadly passed away this week, writes John Campany.
Leiston then proceeded to give a sombre performance on a dull and wet afternoon in front of 277 spectators as The Diamonds consolidated there third place in the table, whilst the home side slipped from 5th to 8th, replaced by rivals Needham Market.
It is becoming a baptism of fire for new Leiston manager Stuart Boardley whose side have now gone four games without a win.
In mitigation, there have been injuries and suspensions that have not helped the cause typified by this largely indifferent period, but they were almost back to full-strength for this game.
Leiston certainly gift wrapped two first half goals, but despite Christy Finch’s brilliantly struck free kick in first half added-time, they were unable to salvage their plight against a well drilled visiting side who deserved the points.
It was a terrible start when inside two minutes keeper Marcus Garnham was culpable in mishandling the ball allowing Albie Hopkins the simple task of firing into an empty net.
Both sides played some decent football, but Leiston’s approach play was in contrast rather laboured, hardly penetrating the visitors’ well-organised defence, despite the influential performance of new signing Ashley Nicholls.
Leiston’s Matt Rutterford provided some optimism dispatching a thunderous drive inches past the post, but then the home side fell further behind in the 31st minute.
A high ball launched to the edge of the box picked out the impressive Tom Lorraine who climbed totally unopposed to head past Garnham.
The luckless keeper was then substituted when picking up an injury and was replaced by Joe Jefford, donning the gloves and Harry Knights joined Tom Bullard at the heart of the defence.
Rutterford opened up the visiting defence crossing from the right, but Jake Reed ballooned over from five yards.
There was hope when Finch fired home a sublime free kick, but a second half fightback failed to ignite.
Leiston never seriously looked capable of testing visiting custodian Ben Heath and the match result was wrapped up with two late goals.
Firstly Albie Hopkins set up Ben Diamond who headed home and then Ben Farrell scored from the spot after Harry Knights had infringed inside the box.
Meanwhile, Leiston’s reserves picked up a 3-2 win at Needham Market reserves, Harrison Bacon and Jourdan Kiwomya with a second-half brace, the scorers.