FA Cup first qualifying round
Leek Town 5 Bewdley Town 0
LOWER division opposition again stands in the way of Leek Town's FA Cup journey after the Harrison Park outfit landed a home tie against Bridgnorth Town. But the Midland Alliance outfit - who have enjoyed an unbeaten start to their campaign - will offer substantially more threat than a poor Bewdley Town brought into Saturday's first qualifying round tie.
The 5-0 romp, which could and arguably should have been far more humiliating for the West Midlands Premier outfit, represented a dream home debut for striker Peter Wright who netted a hat-trick. Keeper Daniel Lloyd-Weston also made his first start after obtaining international clearance from Greece. And Lloyd-Weston will struggle to find an easier afternoon than the one he experienced against an impotent Bewdley attack.
The first half was almost over when Dan Sinton registered the away side's first strike on target. Sinton found plenty of power from wide right but sent his shot straight down the throat of Lloyd-Weston who parried over. By that time Leek were already two goals to the good. The only surprise was that the game was fully 22 minutes old when Wright bagged the first of his three.
Tim Sanders provided early warning of Leek's goal threat with an excellent ball into the danger area with the game less than 60 seconds old. Blues failed to take advantage and went even closer on eight minutes.
A beautiful exchange between Karl Charlton and Rob Stevenson ended with the former volleying over. Stevenson was next to miss the target with Matt Haddrell the provider. Bewdley's one early opportunity came from a mistake from defender George Melling who lost possession in a dangerous area. But the visitors were unable to capitalise and in a theme of the opening 45 struggled to string a series of passes together - with the final ball often finding either a Leek player or touch.
Leek's threat continued with a free Charlton header on 16 minutes which flashed wide following an excellent corner delivery from Sanders. And the full-back was instrumental in the opener when it finally arrived with another quality flag kick.
Wright easily eluded his marker and guided Sanders' cross into the far corner and beyond the despairing dive of Bewdley keeper Darren Steadman. A rare Bewdley opportunity was spurned when Wellings and Marriott conspired to put the ball out of play with numbers over.
But Leek's chances continued to mount up at the other end. Sam Hall sent a header straight into the path of Wright who did everything as his name suggests with a shot across the keeper - but just failed to find the inside of the post. Charlton created another opportunity with a powerful run down the left - beating his man for pace - before delivering to Sanders whose volley was struck into the ground and cleared off the line.
Just after the hour mark Leek carved Bewdley open with a move started by Dan Smith's interception. Sanders, Stevenson and Haddrell were all involved before the latter struck the woodwork with the rebound struck wide by Wright. Minutes before the interval Blues finally doubled their advantage when Stevenson scored at the second attempt after Charlton's initial effort was saved.
The feeling in the stands was that one more goal would kill off the game. And within 10 minutes of the restart the Blues had taken their tally for the day to five. A lovely dink from Charlton sent Haddrell clear and the veteran striker had plenty of time to pick his spot before powering past the visiting keeper.
Just two minutes later it was 4-0. Stevenson was the architect with an excellent run down the left. Haddrell tried a cheeky back-heal from the resultant cross which fell to Wright who swivelled to net his second.
Wright's hat-trick goal arrived on 54 minutes. Poor defending gifted Haddrell possession inside the box. He flicked the ball over one defender before a mix-up with Wright. Both forwards looked to strike and only succeeded in blocking one another. But the loose ball fell to Wright who produced a near identical strike to his first effort to collect the match ball.
There were still more than 30 minutes of the match remaining but Lek were unable to pile further misery upon a beleaguered Bewdley. Substitute Tim Grice, who replaced Haddrell straight after playing a role in his side's fifth goal, enjoyed the best of the remaining opportunities.
Grice struck the woodwork, had goal-bound shots saved and also had an 87th minute effort ruled out for off-side. But the job had already been done with the £3,000 in prize money already in the bank.
Leek: Lloyd-Weston, Sanders, Bell, Smith, Melling (Millar 51), Hall (Woolliscroft 50), Wright, Davidson, Haddrell (Grice 55), Charlton, Stevenson. Unused subs: Bridge.
Bewdley: Steadman, Marriott, Flowers (Gittens 55), Wright (Prescott 57), Costello, Webb, Wellings, Watkins, Smith, Burgess, Sinton (Rudd 62). Unused Subs: Flory, Taffe.