Report - Steve Ball leaves Leiston with a win as he heads for Colchester United
- Credit: Picture: Steve Waller
Leiston 3 Bognor Regis Town 2
An emotional Steve Ball waved goodbye to the Victory Road faithful as his tenure as Leiston manager ended as it had begun, with three points.
Ball, who had announced before the game he was leaving for a full-time coaching role at Colchester United, said a poignant farewell off the pitch, while on it his side displayed what they are good at with a vastly improved display of neat passing football to secure a first home League win since late August.
They didn’t have it their own way though and some strong defending when the visitors were on top helped secure the points.
Leiston started brightly without troubling Bognor and in truth neither keeper was troubled until the final ten minutes of the half.
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First, the visitors’ Stuart Green saw a fine curled effort rattle against Danny Gay’s post, and then on 44 minutes, the hosts took the lead - Joe Francis racing clear onto Stuart Boardley’s raking pass to confidently beat Chris Winterton at his near post. The half closed with Adam Tann planting a header from Conor Hubble’s cross onto the top of the bar.
Spectators had barely found their spot for the second half when the visitors equalised after just 85 seconds as half-time substitute Omarr Lawson, on for Josh Warren, took advantage of some hesitancy between home ‘keeper Gay and defender Tann to poach the leveller from Harvey Whyte’s cross.
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But Leiston responded swiftly and a superb point-blank save from Chris Winterton denied a Craig Parker header, before Gareth Heath got his feet in a muddle at the crucial moment as he raced onto Tom Winter’s fine cross.
Heath then turned provider with a burst of pace into the box before teeing up Conor Hubble, but his scuffed effort bobbled wide.
Ball’s last piece of business was to bring in Colchester United loanee Hubble on a month’s loan and the young midfielder played a big part in the win with some clever movement and passing throughout.
Indeed it was Hubble who nudged the Blues ahead with 22 minutes remaining. The goal came after some unselfish closing down and dispossession from Heath and then Parker , with the latter finding Conor Hubble wide on the right-hand side of the box, the youngster then drilling his effort low and true to Winterton’s right.
Rather than press on, Leiston became nervous and defended deeper towards their own goal. The lively Jake Thomson twice went close with snap-shot efforts that fortunately flew straight at a well-positioned Gay.
The visitors’ bench was incensed when a late penalty appeal was turned down, before the win was sealed for the hosts deep into stoppage time.
Debutant Josh Mayhew showed good strength down the left, and set up Joe Francis who danced his way through the visitors defence before sliding beyond Winterton.
There was still time for Ollie Pearce to find the net, showing great improvisation to sweep home a clever back heel, but there would be no further chance to spoil the party as manager Ball walked down the tunnel for the final time.
Leiston: Gay, Saker (Jefford 72 mins), Boardley, Mitchell, Bullard (Mayhew 85 mins), Tann, Brothers (Winter 34 mins), Heath, Hubble, Parker, Francis. Subs not used – Merritt and Rossis.
Bognor Regis Town : Winterton, Warren (Lawson 45 mins), Medway, Tuck, Sackman, Robson, Whyte (Branford 78 mins), Thomson, Green, Pearce, Crane. Sub not used – Oatway
Referee: Paul Burnham
Attendance – 214
FROM THE DUGOUT.
Steve Ball, Leiston manager.
“That was back to what we are good at, passing football. Bognor were on top in spells but we deserved the lead and after they levelled and we missed some chances I thought, is it going to be one of those days?
“It’s been emotional, I love Leiston and I never thought we would do this well. I hope it’s not the end but the start of something good for the club.
“There are some great people at the club none more so than Andy (Crisp) and Peter (Mayhew), they are a huge credit to this football club. I’m sad but excited and my spell at Leiston has truly helped me get to where I am.”
Jamie Howell, Bognor Regis Town manager.
“It was a good game but I’m disappointed with the goals we’ve conceded.
“We’ve a few injuries and it’s hard enough coming to Leiston anyway.
“We had a couple of good shouts for penalties and the opening goal looked offside, but I’m not taking anything away from Leiston’s win.”