Leiston goalkeeper Ashlee Jones hailed by manager Richard Wilkins

Leiston's Blake Saker on the ball against Harrow Borough

Leiston's Blake Saker on the ball against Harrow Borough - Credit: Su Anderson

Leiston manager has hailed goalkeeper Ashlee Jones as “the best goalkeeper in the Ryman League” and believes the stopper could prove crucial in the Blues’ play-off pursuit between now and the end of the season.

The 28-year-old was the outstanding performer for a below-par Leiston in midweek – Richard Wilkins’ men keeping their fifth clean sheet in a row, just, as they saw off struggling Harrow Borough, 2-0.

It was far from a vintage display by the hosts, but kept them in contention for the top-five – the Blues outside the play-offs on goal difference only, ahead of today’s home clash with third-top Tonbridge Angels.

The Blues are slightly bereft of players for today’s game at Victory Road, with Leon Ottley-Gooch, Kelsey Trotter and Joe Francis all injured and captain, Tom Bullard, suspended after picking up his 10th booking of the season on Tuesday.

That combined with a Leiston not being at their best means the coastal club could have their work cut out today and therefore need players like Jones to be on top of their game.

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“Ashlee is the best goalkeeper in the league, in my opinion, and luckily he agreed to sign for us until the end of the season,” said Wilkins, of the former Lowestoft Town man

“We can’t ask anymore than that and I am sure he will go on to better things. I can’t believe he has not been snapped up by a side in the Conference North or South, or even the Premier Division.

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“He has probably made four or five mistakes this season, which is not bad over such a long period of games, and while a lot of people spend money on strikers, Ashlee has proved that goalkeepers can win you games.”

Today’s opponents have won seven of their last 11 league games and are eight points behind leaders, Hampton & Richmond Borough.

They will hope they can close the gap on the top two today while, for Leiston, it’s all about remaining in contention for the play-offs, with performances taking something of a back seat at this stage of the campaign.

“It’s going to be tough and we are really down to bare bones,” added Wilkins.

“We have been defending well but we have been struggling going forward in recent games.

“I thought we looked dangerous with the ball in the right areas against Harrow Borough, and Christy Finch did well for both goals – scoring one and assisting one – but we are not quite getting it right at the moment.

“Our shape is not quite right and we are a bit disjointed. No one can fault the players’ dedication but we are struggling to find consistency at the moment.

“We are struggling to retain possession at the moment but we are still keeping clean sheets and earning points and that’s all that matters at thins stage of the season.”

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