FA Trophy second round
Leek Town 0 Hungerford Town 1
BLUES crashed out of the FA Trophy by the narrowest of margins after more than matching higher league Hungerford Town at Harrison Park on Saturday.
The game survived an 8am inspection but a number of players found it difficult to keep their feet on the difficult surface.
At times, Leek found it difficult to cope with the visitors' physical approach.
Just after Hungerford had scored what proved to be the winner in the 84th minute, they were reduced to 10 men when Gary Horgan was sent off for a crude challenge on Jordan Johnson.
Horgan's actions led to a mass brawl that looked to be getting out of hand, with Hungerford players grabbing Leek players round their throats, but when order was restored, the referee cautioned Blues' Anthony Danylyk.
After the game, Leek manager Lee Casswell said: "It's been a great journey but it's gone now – it's finished and we will now concentrate on the trip to Bedworth on Saturday in search of three league points.
"Whenever we've had a setback this season, we've always bounced back with a good victory, so I'm hoping we'll continue in that vein and bring home the points on Saturday."
Caswell made one change to his side. with Ryan Dicker replacing Rhys Swetnam, who was on the bench.
Hungerford were the first to show, with Mark Draycott running at the Leek defence early in the game, but Ben Chapman got down well to palm the ball wide.
Hungerford came close in the 15th minute when a 30-yard shot was deflected onto the top of the Leek crossbar.
But when the resulting corner came in, Ben Chapman held at the third attempt – although a free kick was awarded inside his box.
John Johnston worked his way into the box again in the 29th minute and it took two defenders to halt his run.
Six minutes later, Paul Donnelly drove a free kick deep into the Hungerford half where John Johnston played the ball into the path of Danylyk, who shot wide.
In the 40th minute, Leek attacked with Jordan Johnson firing over following good work by John Johnston. A minute later, Bell drove in a dangerous cross that the keeper was forced to claw clear from under the crossbar.
The Crusaders responded with a quick break but Smith cleared off the line after the shot had beaten Chapman in goal.
Casswell made one change during the break, with Mitch Husbands replacing Andy Kinsey up front. Leek kept up the pressure in the second half and in the 47th minute, Maguire fed the ball wide to Johnston, who whipped a low cross into the area – but the keeper was alert to the danger.
Blues created another chance in the 70th minute when Husbands found Johnson, who side-stepped a defender but then lifted his shot over.
Johnston got round the back in the 73rd minute but again, his low cross was cleared as Blues looked for the opener.
The visitors that took the lead in the 84th minute when Stefan Brown played a neat ball in for Draycott, who beat Chapman with a superb shot.
Leek immediately went on the attack, with Johnson leading the charge down the left. Blues' leading scorer broke free but Gary Horgan cynically brought him down with a shocking challenge from behind to earn himself the straight red.
Deep into added time, Leek had one final throw of the dice when Husbands headed on Donnelly's clearance for Dicker, who got in a header but the ball bobbled agonisingly wide of the post.
Leek Town: Chapman, Smith, Bell (Grice 85), Dicker, Donnelly, Hall, Danylyk, Maguire (Shelley 62), Kinsey (Husbands 45), Jordan Johnson, John Johnston. Subs not used: Swetnam.