‘It’s been a big turnaround’ – Leiston striker Sands

Leiston striker John Sands, in the thick of the action against Rushall Olympic on Saturday. Picture:

Leiston striker John Sands, in the thick of the action against Rushall Olympic on Saturday. Picture: HANNAH PARNELL - Credit: Archant

John Sands, feeling fit again after a debilitating illness last year, is confident that Leiston will retain their Step Three status this season.

Much-travelled striker Sands, who signed for Leiston in November, following Glen Driver's arrival as the new manager, has added some much-needed experience plus a goal threat to the young Blues team.

The 32-year-old, who fell ill during a two-year spell of working in the Netherlands, has certainly played his part in guiding Leiston off the Southern League Premier Central basement, to a position of comparative safety, eight points clear of the drop zone.

And although he failed to score during last Saturday's battling 2-2 home draw against promotion-chasing Rushall Olympic, Sands again led the front-line to good effect to help inspire a second-half comeback from 2-0 down.

"We didn't deserve to be two goals down," insisted Sands, who has played for the likes of Mildenhall, Bury Town, Needham Market, Canvey Island and Boston United.

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Sands continued: "But what a great comeback! We could have won it at the end, so it shows how far we have come as a team.

"We changed the formation around a bit for the second half - we went for it a bit more.

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"We have great belief, and every game we go into thinking we are going to win. It's been a big turnaround from a few months ago, so these are exciting times.

"I've got about six goals so far, and was unlucky not to score a couple more today. The keeper made a couple of last-ditch saves.

"We are not going to get into the play-offs or anything like that, but I'm very confident we are going to stay up - there's no doubt about it.

"There's not much in this league we are scared of. There are a few good teams, but today we played a team who are sixth in the league, and they were nothing special. So we've come a long way."

With regards his spell in the Netherlands, Sands explained: "I went out to Holland for a couple of years, concentrating on brick-laying to learn my trade. I had a good opportunity over there.

"I got signed by a club over there and got a deal, but then I fell ill and ended up in hospital.

"That knocked me back. It felt like I had suffered a stroke. It was frightening. I had no energy and I was dizzy. I really wasn't myself.

"A lot of managers and teams would not have taken a risk on me after that, but Glen (Driver) did and I've come in and worked hard. He's a great guy, a great manager, along with TK (Tony Kinsella) and the chairman Andy Crisp."

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