Evo-Stik Northern Premier League First Division South
Rainworth Miners Welfare 0 Leek Town 5
BLUES rained on Wrens' parade with a five-star performance to finally overcome their bogey side, crushing them with consummate ease.
In doing so, Leek avenged their only home league defeat of the season – ironically, at the hands of the Nottinghamshire club, who won in the last minute through Ashley Longstaff at Harrison Park earlier in the season.
Leek had never won at Kirklington Road but they destroyed Rainworth in a devastating opening half, netting no fewer than four times without reply.
The Wrens made more of a game of it in the second half but Blues added a fifth with around 10 minutes remaining, while Ben Chapman in the Leek goal was a virtual spectator.
After the game, Blues' boss Lee Casswell said: "I'm obviously delighted that we laid a ghost to rest after some bad times at Rainworth.'
"We had a great start, with a tremendous strike from Niall, before stretching our lead with a John Johnston header midway through the half.
"As half-time approached, I said to Matt [Beeby] we were worth more going into the break, when up popped Jordan and Shells (Dan Shelley) with two more in quick succession.
"It was a great team performance – arguably our best of the season so far – but there are going to be some ups and downs between now and the end of the season.
"Referees rarely get much praise but I'd just like to commend the referee Paul Vardy, from Sheffield, for his handling of the game – he's the best referee we've had all season."
Casswell enjoyed the luxury of naming the same starting line-up that beat Brigg comfortably last time out and they went on to dominate in all parts of the field, despite a gusting, swirling wind that made it difficult to judge the flight of the ball.
Leek survived an early scare when Ryan Dicker's miskick almost let in Rainworth's giant striker Longstaff in the opening minute.
However, Blues were soon into their stride and in the third minute, Johnson crossed into the box where the keeper failed to hold. A defender only half cleared and the ball was played back into the area, where John Johnston poked a shot wide of the target.
Leek took the lead with a stunning strike in the ninth minute when Johnson drove a corner to the edge of the area where Niall MaGuire struck a stunning volley high into the net that gave the keeper no chance.
In the 15th minute, Leek broke up a Rainworth attack and played the ball forward for Tim Grice, who raced goalwards, only for diminutive midfielder Jack Hargreaves to block the shot.
In the 27th minute, Johnston went on a probing run down the right to whip a cross into the area but again there was no-one near enough to turn the ball home.
At this stage, the home side began to threaten but when Johnston got on the end of a good Leek move at the other end in the 33rd minute, his effort was ruled out by the offside flag.
Two minutes later, Rainworth were rocked back on their heels when Leek doubled their lead after Johnson was brought down by Saunders. The referee played the advantage, leaving Grice to cross from the left, and the ball sat up nicely for Johnston to get round the back and nod the ball home.
In the 36th minute, Blues almost increased their lead when a good ball over the top found Grice, who turned into the box – but his angled shot was pulled down by Martin, although he knew little of it.
Rainworth won a free kick in the 43rd minute when Blues were expecting a foul on Ant Danylyk to be given in their favour – but Hargreaves fired way over from 25 yards out.
On the stroke of half-time, Leek opened up a three-goal gap when Jordan burst into the box to drive a shot under the keeper for his 31st goal of the season.
Two minutes into added time, Shelley repeated the act, slicing through the home defence to beat Martin with a crisp effort from close range – and Leek were out of sight.
Play was held up in the 58th minute whilst Karl Espley and Rainworth's Jason Gregory received treatment for a clash of heads.
Leek continued to push forward and in the 65th minute, Johnston and Dan Smith combined to set up Grice, who had two shots charged down.
With substitutes coming on thick and fast, the game lost some of its impetus but within nine minutes of coming on, Andy Kinsey was celebrating after turning his marker on the edge of the box and then drilling an unstoppable shot high into the net.
Rainworth's only chance of the game came in the 81st minute, when a dangerous low cross came in from the left.
However, Chapman went down smartly at the foot of the near post to claim the ball.
With a five-goal cushion and seeming victory in the bag, Blues drove forward and a minute later, Grice blasted a great shot goalwards – but the keeper pulled off an equally good save.
In the 82nd minute, Smith hoisted a free kick into the area and Kinsey saw his shot blocked by the keeper before Grice pounced on the loose ball – only for Martin to make yet another equally good save.
Shortly before full-time, Shelley drove in a 22-yard free kick that failed to trouble the overworked keeper – but Blues had already achieved a comprehensive victory that keeps them on course for at least a play-off place.
Rainworth: Martin, Gregory (Williams 70), Dudley, Shaw, Saunders, Edridge, Magee (Coupe 23), Longstaff, Hawkins, Whitman. Subs not used: Rogers, Rickards, Clarke.
Leek Town: Chapman, Smith, Bell, Dicker (Bratt 70), Espley, MaGuire, Danylyk (Hall 64), Shelley, Grice, Jordan Johnson, John Johnston (Kinsey 70). Subs not used: Donnelly.
Attendance: 73 Man-of-the-match: Tim Grice.