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Leek & District Sunday Football League

By Leek Post and Times  |  Posted: March 26, 2014

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Leek & Dist Sunday Football League

VALIANT, having caught up on their games in the league, faced Hare & Gate Strollers in the semi-final of the J W Howson Cup.

In a fairly even first half, neither side was able to find the net.

However, Valiant's recent signing Jamie Pope scored just three minutes into the second half.

Strollers continued to battle on and just when it looked like they were getting back into the game, Lee McNicholas scored for Valiant to double their lead and to secure the victory.

Valiant now face a waiting game to find out who their opponents will be, as the other half of the draw play catch-up.

Elmo's Celtic faced Dyers Arms FC in the quarter-finals with a place at stake in the semi-final to face the winner of Valiant Troggs or Leek Snooker Centre.

Dyers made a real fight of it as they restricted Elmo's chances but were powerless to prevent Ollie Mellor from scoring to give Elmo's the lead going into the break.

The second half saw Elmo's dominate large parts of the game as they grew in confidence and settled down into their normal passing game.

Mellor got his second of the game to double Elmo's lead and Kieron Scotland also got a brace to give Elmo's an unassailable four-goal lead that saw them safely into the semi-final.

Railway played hosts to Waterhouses in the quarter-final of the Leek Shield with a place in the semi-final at stake.

The game was played in near-perfect conditions at Back Lane, Congleton, which made for a great open game, with both teams having spells of possession but neither being able to find the net.

Railway had goalkeeper Dan Mountford to thank late on in the first half, as he made a great save to keep the score 0-0 going into the half- time interval.

The second half saw Railway become more dominant, in possession for large parts of the game. However, they didn't manage to break the deadlock until Lee Tawn scored in the 70th minute.

Desperate to kill the game off, Railway continued to push forward and doubled their lead with only 10 minutes remaining.

Ashley Burton went past three Waterhouses defenders and smashed a low shot into the corner of the net.

To their credit, Waterhouses refused to give in and went all-out attack in an effort to save the game, and their efforts were rewarded when Jake Binns clawed a goal back with seven minutes remaining.

Still a goal behind and with only seven minutes left, Waterhouses threw everything at Railway but the latter's defence soaked up all the pressure and held on for a well-deserved victory.

The Subsidiary Cup saw Vale Hoppers play their final game against Wellington and although there was no chance of Hoppers qualifying for the semi-final, a win or a draw would keep Wellington in the race for runners-up spot.

To use a cliché, this was most definitely a 'game of two halves'.

Hoppers started off the better of the two, even with a scratch side, and they raced off into a two-goal lead, thanks to a brace from Chris Jackson within 20 minutes.

Darren Byram also netted for Hoppers to make it three going into the break, with the game almost looking over.

However, Wellington's player-manager Luke Ford had other ideas.

He issued a rallying call to his team to go out and play for their places in next week's semi-final against Biddulph Town Diamonds – and they did not disappoint.

Ford led from the front and scored with his first touch of the game, having come on at half-time, and the comeback was on.

Erol Nazli further reduced the deficit for Wellington with 15 minutes remaining, which turned the came completely on its head.

With only seconds left on the clock, young Jack Davies got the equaliser for Wellington to level the game and the points were shared.

As a result, Wellington need to now beat Snooker Centre by two clear goals to go level on points and goal difference with that team, which would force a play-off.

Anything better would see Wellington go through as Group A runners-up, while a draw or a win would see Snooker Centre qualify.

In the league, Leek Snooker Centre played host to Biddulph Town Diamonds and having met last week in the Subsidiary Cup, playing out a draw, these teams were quite familiar with each other.

Leek started off the quicker of the two teams, as Dave Tatton give them the lead after only eight minutes.

Andy Mayer doubled Snooker Centre's lead 10 minutes later or so and they looked to be coasting.

However, Jack Wilson got a goal back for Biddulph just before half-time to reduce the deficit, which inspired the rest of his team to believe that they could go on to win.

The second half saw both sides play all-out attacking football, desperately seeking the victory, but the defining point of the game was when Snooker Centre defender Ben Weeks was stretchered off and taken to hospital with what looked like a very deep cut to his ankle.

Snooker Centre manager Graham Tatton had to quickly find a replacement for Weeks from the bench and as a result, had to shuffle his team around and change the tactics employed during the first half.

This change of tactics and players switching positions clearly unsettled the team, as Biddulph got the upper hand and dominated large portions of the second half.

Jordan Leonard scored for Biddulph to level the game after 61 minutes, quickly followed by veteran defender Nigel Hopper, to wrestle the lead from Snooker Centre's grasp.

Biddulph continued to push forward and were rewarded for their efforts as Jake Faulkner and James Welch netted to settle the tie and to continue Biddulph's recent good run of form.

Biddulph Town management team of Gary Valiant Troggs smashed 15 goals past a stunned Wellington United side, which moved Troggs to second place in the league above arch-rivals Elmo's, albeit on goal difference.

Troggs took a three-goal lead going into the half-time break as Mike Keates scored after eight minutes, Mitch Cartlidge on 11 and Jack Keeling on 25.

Ruthless Troggs came out in the second half still hungry for more goals and they did not disappoint, as Cartlidge got another five.

Keates got another two goals to complete his hat-trick, Callum Savage also got a hat-trick, Jake Johnson scored with a 35-yard screamer and defender Dan Lawlor netted the last to round off a fine display after setting up eight of the 15 goals scored.

Ryan Shenton pulled a goal back for Wellington.

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