Leiston seal FA Trophy progress at Eastbourne Borough after penalty-kick drama
- Credit: Picture: Steve Waller
Ollie Brown and Jacob Marsden were Leiston’s FA Trophy heroes as the Blues emerged 5-3 winners in a spot-kick shoot-out last night.
Brown scored the decisive kick after Marsden had saved Tom Murphy’s attempt, the Ryman Premier side booking a trip to Bromley on Saturday in the First Round Proper.
Gareth Heath made sure the game went to penalties, scoring in the 119th minute, to cancel out goals from Jamie Taylor and Ian Simpemba – the second in extra time, for the National South side.
Matt Blake had put the Blues ahead in the 48th minute and Heath had the chance to finish the game in normal time, only to blast over with an open goal gaping.
The Blues lined up 3-5-2 in farcical conditions – the heavy fog making it difficult, for spectators at least, to see much past the halfway line from one end of the artificial pitch.
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Had this been a game between two local sides, the officials would surely have thought long and hard about calling the game off.
However, with Leiston’s journey to Sussex last Tuesday being halted by traffic congestion on the M25, the last thing either side wanted was a replay.
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After the hosts created a couple of half-chances, Leiston’s first opportunity could have easily yielded a goal, but Seb Dunbar’s low ball across the box just evaded Blake in the six-yard box.
Nat Pinney, a stocky customer in attack, was holding the ball up well, and on one occasion, gained a yard of room in the box, but fired straight at Jacob Marsden from a tight angle.
The Blues were defending well with Jack Ainsley superb in the middle of the back three, the former Ipswich Town youngster finding his team-mates with precision long-range passes on more than one occasion.
From one such ball, Blake ran on to the pass but goalkeeper Charlie Horlock got there first, clearing from the edge of the 18-yard box. However, the ball only fell as far as Leon Ottley Gooch who volleyed first time, from range, towards an open goal, the striker’s audacious effort being matched by equally-good reflexes from Horlock, who parried the ball out for a corner.
The fog cleared at the start of the second half and the Blues wasted no time in taking the lead, Blake heading home from eight yards, Brown’s right-wing cross, after Eastbourne failed to clear an initial ball into the box by the full-back.
The visitors had a golden chance to double their lead nine minutes later but after racing on to a splendid ball from the outstanding Patrick Brothers, Byron Lawrence was caught in two minds in the box, Blake waiting for a tap-in and Horlock smothered at the midfielder’s feet.
Eastbourne were content to sit off Leiston and wait to pounce on a mistake and the Blues obliged a couple of times with some slack play.
After brief respite from the fog, the conditions worsened with 20 minutes to go and probably contributed to the hosts’ equaliser. Jake Hutchings failed to deal with a long ball over the top and Taylor snuck in front of him him to grab the equaliser, the winger firing across Marsden from eight yards. The Blues had a decent chance to win the game in normal time but Heath failed to keep his effort down, with the goal gaping, after Horlock had palmed Joe Francis’ deep cross back into the danger area.
Heath then missed the chance of the game with seconds left, the midfielder rounding the ‘keeper and taking a touch before side-footing high and wide over an open goal, much to the crowd’s amazement.
Sustained pressure from the hosts saw them take the lead in the 102nd minute, skipper Simpemba turning well in the box before firing home at the ‘keeper’s near post.
With time running out, Heath atoned for his earlier miss, converting into the centre of the net, with a minute to go, after a cut back from Dunbar.
Onto penalties and Brothers, Ainsley, Francis, Blake and Brown were all successful from 12 yards.