Leiston St Margarets complete great escape with win on final day
- Credit: Archant
SIL Senior Division Leiston St Margarets 2 AFC Hoxne 1 Leiston St Margarets ensured that they will be playing Senior Division football again next season following a hard-fought 2-1 win over AFC Hoxne.
Saints, who were positioned in the two relegation spots for the majority of the season, triumphantly walked off to ‘The Great Escape’ theme song that blasted from Junction Meadow’s speakers in spectacular sunshine.
And it was no less than Richard Battle’s men deserved after they picked up seven points from their last three games to catapult themselves above the unfortunate Haughley United.
Saturday’s victory over an AFC Hoxne side that finished 11th in their first season at this level was just about warranted.
Chris Palmer gave Saint Margarets the lead midway through the first half with a stunning 35-yard strike that couldn’t have been nestled further into the top corner.
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This was after an exciting opening that saw Saints’ captain Kyle Horner curl narrowly wide, while Hoxne’s biggest threat came from a flurry of corners and set pieces that Saint Margarets just about managed to survive.
Saints thought they’d scored from a set piece themselves when Taylor Bannister powerfully headed home Tane Backhouse’s delivery, only for the referee to rule the goal out for a push by Palmer.
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Home goalkeeper Andy Perkins saved well with his feet, while Will Ridgard nodded off the goal-line as Saints took a slender 1-0 advantage into the break.
The game followed the same pattern of play in the second period, with top-goalscorer Daniel Knights dusting himself down, from a John Boorman foul, to convert a 70th-minute penalty – his 10th goal of the season.
Sam Newson powerfully headed into the side netting as Saints looked to kill the game off, but Hoxne had other ideas as the lively Artur Leszcynski and Danny Varela started to influence proceedings with some direct and mazy dribbling.
However, Saints were excellent in their disciplined defending; perfectly timing their blocks and tackles to frustrate their opponents.
That said, Leszcynski curled home a brilliant shot from 25 yards for 2-1, but it was too little too late for Hoxne as Saints took the points to secure survival.