Matt Blake’s strike keeps Leiston’s play-off hopes alive

Seb Dunbar on the run for Leiston

Seb Dunbar on the run for Leiston - Credit: Archant

Ryman League Premier Leiston 1 Leatherhead 0 Matt Blake’s stunning strike breathed fresh life into Leiston’s play–off aspirations following three successive away defeats in eight days.

Joe Francis on the ball for Leiston

Joe Francis on the ball for Leiston - Credit: Archant

In fact this was their fifth win from the last 17 matches and lit up Victory Road in front of 308 spectators to end a dismal run and maintain their third position in the Premier table.

The Surrey side, hoping to avoid relegation, had won four and drawn one of their previous six games and proved resilient until the league’s top scorer struck.

There was some tension with plenty at stake for both sides but they played some good football despite the windy conditions with defences well organised and clear chances limited.

The visitors’ Charlie Moone had a shot comfortably held by Ashlee Jones whilst at the other end Niko Muir released Blake who volleyed over and Tom Bullard’s header from Joe Francis free kick lacked the pace to trouble keeper Louis Wells.

Leatherhead manager Jimmy Bullard watches on.

Leatherhead manager Jimmy Bullard watches on. - Credit: Archant


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Leiston’s penetrative balls from midfield were often negated by the wind but Seb Dunbar created a half chance for Jack Ainsley, who fired wide.

And Joe Francis provided a great opportunity for Blake but he tried to place his effort, from a good position, that was easily gathered by Wells, and then Ollie Brown’s cross was met by Muir, who headed inches wide.

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Leatherhead opened the second half well with Sean Theobald running through but he shot over and Luke Moore’s free kick headed narrowly wide by Yannis Ambroisine.

However, the home side were looking impressive using the ball intelligently in midfield and finding their players more readily against the elements.

Attacking on both flanks they threatened to derail a strong rearguard defence anchored by Joe Howe.

The tension disappeared in the 73rd minute. Good use of the ball from keeper Jones set up a fine three man move that culminated with Francis turning inside from the wide right and releasing a diagonal ball to Blake.

He had plenty to do to evade close defenders, but with renewed confidence he drilled a powerful low strike beyond Wells inside the far post that nicely sets up Tuesday’s vital home match against Harrow Borough.

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