Leiston go top as second-half goals secure Brentwood win

Joe Jefford gave Leiston the lead against Brentwood

Joe Jefford gave Leiston the lead against Brentwood

Leiston climbed to the top of the Ryman Premier Division last night with a comfortable 2-0 victory over mid-table Brentwood Town.

Two scrappy second-half goals were enough for Richard Wilkins’ men to claim the points, leapfrogging previous league-leaders Grays Athletic, who could only draw 1-1 with Staines Town.

The Blues started off brightly with the attacking quartet of Gareth Heath, Patrick Brothers, Billy Clark, and John Sands all combining well without seriously threatening the Brentwood back-line.

Keeper Martyn Guest got his angles right in the eighth minute as Heath’s free-kick just curled wide, with Ryan O’Rawe executing a perfect sliding tackle to prevent the same player from firing goal-wards in the 20th minute.

Brentwood, managed by ex-Wimbledon and Bolton striker Dean Holdsworth and sporting one of Leiston’s away kits after only bringing blue attire to Victory Road, threatened from set pieces.

Captain Martyn Stokes headed over in the 27th minute, before O’Rawe saw his climbing header hacked off the goal-line by Blues skipper Tom Bullard five minutes later.

Leiston came close to a breakthrough on the stroke of half-time – Heath sliding through Sands, but the striker’s first-time effort was smothered by Guest.

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The game desperately needed a goal and just two minutes after the re-start it got one as Joe Jefford acted as the ultimate fox in the box to scramble home the aftermath of Bullard’s knock-down.

The Essex club, who defeated AFC Sudbury in the Ryman North play-offs en route to promotion last season, almost equalised when Robbie Rees’ deep free-kick caused confusion among the Leiston ranks but the ball drifted narrowly wide.

Wilkins’ men doubled their lead in the 64th minute, as like Jefford before him, Heath pounced on a loose ball to fire home via the boot of Philip Anderson.

While Heath, fresh from making his 200th appearance for the club, will argue that his shot was going in already, the official title went to the unfortune Anderson.

The Blues were then in cruise control from then on in, comfortably securing another three Ryman Premier Division points to top the table after a quarter of the season.