Leiston planning for the next step
WHEN the silverware is handed out at the end of the season, Leiston could well look back on the last seven days as a crucial tipping point.
A heavy win over Newmarket started the week perfectly and since then it has just got better and better.
Their nearest rivals in the Ridgeons League Premier Division, Dereham Town, continued their apparent freefall with a staggering 5-0 home defeat by Stanway Rovers.
Just 24 hours later, it seemed like Leiston would be unable to captialise when keeper Jamie Stannard was sent off shortly before the break at Walsham-le-Willows.
But a fantastic second half - billed by chairman Andy Crisp as one of the best of the season - saw the league leaders win 2-1 and establish a commanding eight-point lead at the top and with still two matches in hand.
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No one at Victory Road dare utter the word ‘promotion’ just yet, but it would take a monumental collapse from a side that has lost just once in the league all season.
Understandably, Crisp is keeping coy about the club’s title chances even if he can’t hide his delight over the events of the last seven days.
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He said: “With Dereham losing and us winning against the odds at Walsham, it does put us in a very strong position. But there is still quite a long way to go and we still have to play Dereham twice and other tough games against the likes of Kirkley and Mildenhall.
“When Jamie Stannard was sent off at Walsham. we would have taken a point. But the immense second half performance was one of the highlights of the season for me and those three points could make a massive difference at the end of the season.”
Just two weeks ago, Leiston were unceremoniously dumped out of the FA Vase at Coalville Town in a match where a 1-0 defeat masked the dominance of the home side.
For a side so unaccustomed to losing and with very real aspirations of a Wembley final, the Suffolk side could have been forgiven for returning to league action feeling a little sorry for themselves.
Not a bit of it insists Crisp who added: “We were disappointed at losing in the Vase in the way we did. But the players and management must take credit in getting to the last eight as well as a decent FA Cup run. They have been fantastic this season and I have nothing but praise for them.”
Crisp might not go on record about the title chances but he has no choice but to look towards a step up next season.
The club were visited by FA and Ryman League officials on Wednesday and given a check-list to ensure Victory Road is up to standard.
Crisp admitted this means a busy couple of weeks around the ground as well as initial talks with manager Mark Morsley about what happens on the pitch.
Asked if Leiston were ready for Ryman League football, Crisp added: “We are an ambitious club and while we are in the ascendancy, I think we have to go for it.”