Evo-Stik Northern Premier League First Division South
Kidsgrove Athletic 2 Leek Town 0
LEEK Town's miserable form in the New Year continued with another derby defeat, this time at Kidsgrove, on Saturday.
The Blues have now picked up just one point in their last three games, although they could still top the league if they win their games in hand.
Manager Lee Casswell made two changes to his side, with new signing Michael Lennon replacing the departed Glyn Cotton whilst leading scorer Jordan Johnson was restored to the starting line-up at the expense of Dan Shelley.
Leek dominated the opening half but failed to find the net despite numerous chances.
The second half went very much the same way until Grove took the lead ten minutes in, following a break-away, and then Leek had a superbly struck ruled out by the linesman's flag.
Blues pushed hard to salvage a point but were undone by another break-away goal with just four minutes remaining.
After the game, Casswell said:"Obviously, I'm very disappointed to lose another derby game – much more than other games.
"Pride is at stake in these games and it's not nice losing to them – but, in the first half, we looked like a side chasing promotion whilst they are struggling.
"It was very disappointing to concede two goals due to breakaways because Ben Chapman was otherwise not really tested, whilst Andy Kinsey is adamant that he was behind the defender when he headed back in for JJ's effort that was ruled out by the flag.
"When I look back at the first half of the season, we have had our fair share of luck – but that luck seems to have deserted us now, so we have to pull our socks up and get through it."
Leek attacked from the whistle and Jordan Johnson had a shot blocked whilst his follow-up cross was claimed by the keeper.
In the second minute, Blues only half-cleared a free kick but Grove cleared the woodwork with a spectacular overhead kick.
In the ninth minute, John Johnston's cross to the far post was miss-hit by Jordan Johnson and a minute later, the tricky winger saw his next cross cut out by the keeper.
Blues continued to push forward and in the 13th minute, Lennon's shot was deflected for a corner.
Two minutes later, Anthony Danylyk stepped over a probing pass into the box but it took Andy Kinsey by surprise and he shot wide of the upright.
John Johnston went on a great run in the 19th minute and his cross was deflected for a corner that Lennon turned wide.
Leek almost took the lead in the 20th minute when a superb cross by Dan Smith found Lennon – but his downward header was sat on by the keeper on his line.
A minute later, a shot by Grove's Johnson failed to trouble Ben Chapman, who had a relatively quiet opening half.
In the 36th minute, Johnston left his marker for dead once again but no-one was able to get onto his low cross and it flew straight through the six-yard box.
Leek almost took the lead in the 42nd minute when Johnston went down the right before playing the ball in for Smith to hoist to the far post, where it was headed down for Jordan Johnson – who lifted his shot over from close range.
Blues continued to drive forward after the break but went on to rue those missed first half chances when they conceded the lead in the 55th minute. Danylyk's shot from a corner hit a Kidsgrove defender and the ball rebounded to Thomas Wakefield, who crossed for the unmarked Shane Reaney to head home against the run of play.
Six minutes later, Blues thought they had drawn level when a Matt Bell corner was headed back in by Kinsey for John Johnston in a crowded box and he blasted an angled shot into the back of the net – only for the effort to be ruled out by the flag.
Leek piled forward looking for the equaliser with Sam Hall and Andy Kinsey both off target, and then Andy Bratt tried his luck with a flicked shot from the edge of the box following a corner.
In the 73rd minute, Matt Bell saw his driven shot deflected inches wide of the upright before former Leek defender Andy Taylor caught Jordan Johnson with a shocking tackle and was relieved to be shown only a yellow card.
Danylyk turned a neat ball into the box for Lennon in the box and he went past a defender before getting in a shot that was deflected straight at the keeper.
In the 80th minute, Blues should have been on level terms when Jordan Johnson found himself with time and space inside the box – but his powerful shot was blocked and Lennon's follow-up shot was somehow cleared off the line by Paul Taylor.
Two minutes later, Paul Donnelley drove a free kick into the Grove box and they twice failed to clear the ball but Smith wasted the chance, lobbing the ball into the keeper's arms.
However, Grove made sure of the points with another break-away goal with just four minutes remaining. Blues were pressing the Grove box and a stray pass was pumped out of the area and Johnson raced forward to confront Chapman, who had no chance of keeping out the well-struck shot.
The referee indicated just three minutes of added time but Grove held out to claim the spoils.
Kidsgrove: Read, Grocott, Bramall, A Taylor, Haddrell, P Taylor, Matranga, Espley, Johnston, Reaney (Corden 75), Pearmain (Wakefield 38). Subs not used: Smith, Johnson, Whitehead.
Leek: Chapman, Smith, Bell, Dicker (Bratt 49), Donnelly (Grice 87), Hall, Danylyk, Lennon, Kinsey, Jordan Johnson, John Johnston (Shelley 72). Subs not used: MaGuire, Errico.
Attendance: 385 Man-of-the-match: Anthony Danylyk.