LEEK fielded a re-shuffled side and were without inspirational captain Wes Weston.
It took several Barford chances to bring Leek to life and against the run of play, they took the lead.
Battling and hard-working play all round saw Leek go into the break 4-0 up with goals from Hudson, Tom Gordon, Baldo and Smith.
The second half was hard work for Leek, with the visitors suffering from injuries and dismissals.
However, the Moorlanders caught the opposition out on the break with two excellent team goals from Knight and Smith.
Special mention must go to the defence and Kieren Bedford for the first clean sheet of the season.
Leek 3rds 13 Barford Tigers 2
LEEK knew they were in a for tough game, as Barford always prove to be tricky opponents.
It proved to be rather scrappy in the opening exchanges as both teams blew off the cobwebs after a lengthy break over the Christmas period.
However, Leek soon settled down and through some brilliant attacking play by Birch, Darlington, G Plant and Boardman, they took the lead.
This opened the floodgates and at half time, the score was already 8-0.
The Leek defence of R Plant, Brindley and C Bellfield stood firm, leaving goalkeeper Ahlers without a single save to make.
While a comeback from Barford seemed unlikely, Leek knew
they couldn't become complacent in the second half and kept up the pressure, which in turn saw them score a further five goals.
Barford managed to score two consolation goals in the second half but the game was already out of reach for them.
After such a convincing victory, Leek should be able to take this momentum into their next game away to Belper.
Northampton Saints 2 Leek 5ths 1
LEEK made the long trip to Northampton hoping to start the second half of the league season with a victory.
A much-changed Northampton side from the one Leek had beaten easily in the opening game gave Leek a much sterner task.
The Moorlands team struggled to get their passing game going on a very bouncy pitch that tested the basic skills of both teams.
Leek fell behind midway through the first half, despite some excellent defending by Alun Hughes and Jason Grant.
Jules Brooks equalised after a great run and cross from Andy Critchlow, but Northampton replied with 10 minutes remaining.
Barford Tigers 4ths 0 Leek 6ths 1
THE FIRST league game back after the winter break saw the Leek 6thXI face a tough away test.
After a hard-fought game Leek came away with the win through a single Jas Sokhal goal.
Towards the end, Gayes was sent to the sin bin and it seemed like an eternity until the umpire eventually called an end to the game, with Leek coming out on top. Adam Knott had an outstanding performance in goal and deservedly scored the winner with 10 minutes to go.
Leek 5ths 0 Stafford 4ths 0
WITH this being Leek's first league game back after the Christmas break – and having only narrowly beaten Stafford away earlier in the season – the Moorlanders expected a tough game, and were not disappointed.
Leek started sluggishly and were not quite mentally "switched on" to playing again.
For the first 15 minutes, Stafford enjoyed nearly all the play and forced a string of penalty corners.
The Leek defence of Cummings in goal, along with Rob Povey, Jerry Watson and James Convey, managed to keep Stafford out by any means possible.
Tony Cummins is worthy of special mention as throughout the game, he pulled off every save he was forced to make and ensured Leek took away a point.
After the initial onslaught, the Leek midfield picked up and Elliot Hammonds, Dan White and Oliver Watson, supported by Derek Patterson and Joe Cummings, started to play the ball more freely.
Tom Povey, Ben Cluthe and Will Landon ran tirelessly up front for Leek looking to sneak a goal.
Stafford always looked more likely to get a result from the match, but Leek's young side can be proud that they dug in when needed and put in the work rate to earn a point.
Leek 2nds 8 Tamworth 2nds 0
LEEK returned to league action this weekend against strugglers Tamworth, with both teams in need of the three points on offer.
Leek completed the mission in emphatic style.
The first half saw the Moorlanders dominate possession and dictate the tempo of the game.
They restricted their opponents to long ball tactics in their attempts to cause trouble.
Leek were quick to produce turnovers and turn defence into attack, penetrating the final 23 metres and the D with good link-up play from all players.
This allowed some free-flowing, attacking hockey – but Tamworth held strong.
Eventually, the South Staffordshire side were broken when the forward duo of Kate Jones and Bev Cartlidge linked up effectively.
A well-timed reverse-stick pass from Jones into the advancing Cartlidge's path saw the ball hit first time, on the run, into the bottom left-hand corner.
This seemed to spur Leek on further and they hadn't too long to wait for their second.
Quick-thinking from Jenny Evans saw her take a free hit inside the Leek half quickly, beating several Tamworth players to pass to Caroline Evenden on the left.
Evenden drove at the Tamworth defence and passed the ball to Bev Cartlidge, who cleverly turned the last defender on the edge of the D and fired an unstoppable shot into the Tamworth goal.
This gave Leek a 2-0 lead they thoroughly deserved going into the half-time break.
The Moorlanders had to soak up some early Tamworth pressure on the resumption of play but their defence held strong.
Once Leek had ridden the Tamworth storm and settled down, the goals soon came thick and fast.
Leek's third goal came courtesy of Evenden, Alex Binks sending a cross in to the far left post for the youngster to sweep into the goal for her first strike of the season.
The fourth goal came from some fine link-up play and started deep in defence.
Leek goalkeeper Rhiannon Bedford kicked the ball clear to Bev Cartlidge, who in turn worked to release the ball to Jenny Evans down the right side of the pitch.
Evans then advanced to the Tamworth D, releasing Evenden for a shot that looped over the Tamworth goalkeeper, leaving Evans to tap the ball into the goal.
Leek were now in the driving seat and looked to really capitalise on a great team effort.
Becci Neale grabbed Leek's fifth goal, firing in a pull-back from Jenny Evans at close range.
A breakdown within a penalty corner saw Leek awarded a penalty stroke, which Bev Cartlidge dispatched with ease, completing her hat-trick and chalking up Leek's sixth goal.
More was still to come following the inspired re-introduction of Kate Jones by coach Hazel Mycock.
Jones wasted no time and scored Leek's seventh within two minutes of being back on.
The eighth and final strike saw Jenny Evans pick up her second goal of the game.
Again, Leek were camped inside the Tamworth D when the ball fell to Evans, who calmly flicked it over the grounded goalkeeper.
This was a real team effort produced by Leek and a thoroughly deserved win.
With eight goals, a clean sheet and three much-needed points to help them move back up the league table, confidence will be high going into this week's tie away at Lichfield.
The player-of-the-match accolade was shared between Jenny Evans, Caroline Evenden and Bev Cartlidge, with the opposition voting Jenny Evans their player-of-the-match.
Leek 3rds 1 Uttoxeter 3rds 1
THIS was the thirds' first league match post-Christmas.
Uttoxeter pressed hard early on and had a goal disallowed for going in off the player's feet rather than her stick.
However, this disappointment appeared to fire up Uttoxeter even more, and they then went a goal up within a few minutes.
Leek then began to wake up and battled hard for the rest of the first half but were unable to get a goal back before half-time.
The second half was end-to-end, and Leek finally levelled with a goal from Sami Cope.
Both teams continued to battle, but neither could get the deciding goal.
Leek Badgers 0 North Staffs 2
THE BADGERS were without a goalkeeper for the game and with the visitors fielding some senior players, it was clear it was going to be a tough.
Surprisingly, though, the game started with the Badgers dominating in the visitors' half, with good work from the midfielders and forwards – but the experienced North Staffs defence held strong.
The equally impressive Badgers defence stopped a number of attacks but 10 minutes from half-time, a visiting player got past and pushed the ball into the open goal.
The second half was more of the same, with Hammonds hitting the post to almost put Leek level with 15 minutes remaining.
The result was put beyond doubt when North Staffs got a lucky break and placed the ball in Leek's goal.
Leek 4ths 0 WATS 4ths 10
AFTER the previous week's excess of players, Leek travelled with only 11 to top-of-the-table WATS.
Due to players being unavailable Leek's coach Hall had to change the line-up drastically, and this meant a move to central midfield for Abigayle Hall and Jess Walsh.
After a good warm-up, the Leek side settled well and even began to take the game to WATS.
However, this was to be short-lived as within the first six minutes, WATS had opened their account.
Leek refused to roll over, chasing every ball as they sought to get back on level terms.
As the first half went on, the Leek midfield began to settle and Charlotte Allen and Molly Johnson on either side seemed to get to grips with their roles more and more.
The defence of Mart, Smith and Fordsham tried everything to keep the score down and did an excellent job of putting the opposition forwards in their place.
On the few occasions WATS managed to get through, they found Helen Lyons in great form again.
Despite going into the second half 3-0 down, Leek were well up for the fight and spurred on by Ruth Smith, they went out looking to contain the score and maybe even force a goal.
However, this was not to be on either count, as WATS used their experienced players to finally break through and away from Hall and player-of-the-match Walsh to put seemingly unending pressure on the Leek goal.
Despite the final score, the back three played some good hockey especially Smith and Fordsham, while Lyons lived up to her surname with some excellent saves.
The biggest surprise of the day came when Emily Boulton got player-of-the-match recognition from the opposition for her breathless display towards the end of the game.
The scoreline was one to be forgotten but Leek's team spirit cannot be faulted and with more players hopefully available this week, they should take heart and look forward to the visit of fellow strugglers Lichfield.
LEEK took a team of four boys and six girls to the NoDe mixed tournament for under-11 boys and under-12 girls at Wirksworth on Sunday.
They came away with three wins and a draw from their four games.
Leek started the first game hesitantly against Notts Players A and with two stubborn defences and goalkeepers in good form, the teams played out a 0-0 draw.
Leek's second game, against Buxton, was played nine-a-side and the extra two players for each side proved to be more to Buxton's advantage, allowing them to thwart Leek with extra bodies. Leek prevailed, though, with a goal from Sian Jones giving them a 1-0 win.
Leek then faced their stiffest challenge in an all-boys Derwent team, which had been the strongest team in previous tournaments and now had home advantage as well.
Leek battled well in a competitive match and took the lead through Freddie Bell.
The Leek defence then held firm, with Ellie Poole leading the way, while Maggie Gayes and Chloe Nadin stepped up to the plate with some great defensive work.
The highlight of this game, though, was a diving stick save from Josh Johnson in goal, pushing a well-struck shot wide of the upright.
This helped Leek to hang onto their slender 1-0 lead and see the game out.
Leek's final game was against Notts Players B and they really let loose.
Cameron Capper put Leek ahead early on before Jasmine White twice went close to scoring following good work from Georgina Jones.
Reuben Hatcher and Bell then provided further glimpses of an emerging double act, providing each other with opportunities and scoring two apiece and giving Leek a 5-0 win.
Leek therefore managed to score seven goals in total – but more impressively, they didn't concede any, benefiting from their willingness to pass the ball and hold their positions.