THE "little bit of luck" Lee Casswell had craved to help Leek Town embark on a winning run may just have come his way on Saturday.
No fewer than three Mickleover Sports players contrived to deflect Peter Wright's angled shot into the home side's net towards the start of the second half. It proved enough to give the Blues a crucial three points and begin what Town fans hope will be a push towards the play-offs.
The Blues boss said: "We were good in the second half but not so good in the opening half. The three points were hard earned so I'm delighted they went our way.
"Despite them (Mickleover) having problems with their squad I thought they did well and so I'm very pleased to have come away with the win. We were lacklustre in the opening half at a time when I'm looking for certain players to dig in but in the end we came through and the clean sheet was massive for us.
"I was particularly pleased with Tom Urwin and Michael Thomas at the back and when Tim Grice came on we looked a much stronger outfit."
Casswell was forced to make one change to his starting line-up with Matt Bell replacing the suspended Danny Smith while new signing Adam Roberts won a seat on the bench.The game opened in glorious sunshine but there was nothing to shout about in the first half with neither side able to make a lasting impression.
Although Sports won three early free-kicks Town mounted the first attack on goal in the eighth minute. Tim Sanders' cross was headed out to Urwin who held off his marker to get in a shot that cleared the crossbar from 20 yards.
Town found themselves exposed in the 13th minute when George Melling fell awkwardly. Play was allowed to continue - leaving Blues short-handed at the back - but Danny Roberts pulled off a fine save to deny Alex Steadman. Sports came close again in the 18th minute but Blues blocked two efforts before Steadman headed over at the far post.
In the 33rd minute Shelly's free-kick led to a corner that Sanders drove into the box. Haddrell got up highest only for his header to be cleared off the line. In the 36th minute a Sanders corner was cleared only as far as Urwin whose shot was almost deflected into his own goal by Jon Guy.
Town finished the half on top and just seconds before the interval threatened once again. Sanders reached the by-line before pulling the ball back for Haddrell. Last-gasp defending again denied the striker before Wright's follow-up shot was blocked. At the other end Roberts had to go down smartly to smother a shot from Steadman.
After the break Mickleover went on the attack, winning a free-kick wide on the left. But when the tempting cross came home fans were left wondering how neither of two Sports players could get a boot on it.
In the 50th minute Matt Bell played a ball out of defence for Shelley whose shot from the edge of the box forced Tom Gutteridge to save at the foot of the post. Town broke the deadlock three minutes later. Urwin found Bell who threaded the ball through for Wright. Town's leading marksman held off a challenge before firing towards goal from an acute angle. And in a desperate attempt to clear Sports defence only managed to deflect the ball into their own net.
Town suddenly found some form and on the hour put together another good move. Shelley and Anthony Danylyk combined before Sanders drove a low into the box which Haddrell scooped the wrong side of the post.
Less than 60 seconds later Wright volleyed inches wide before Michael Thomas played the ball wide to Bell. He sent Grice racing into the box and the striker rounded the keeper but had his shot cleared off the line by a covering defender.
Sports almost pulled level in the 67th minute when Steadman broke free and advanced into the box. Roberts cut down the angle and the home side's leading marksman could only placed his shot inches wide of the far post.
In the 69th minute Blues caused panic in the home penalty area. Shelley’s shot was charged down before Grice ran onto another fine ball but hurried his shot - volleying wide of the target. Grice continued to threaten but again failed to hit the target with a towering header on 75 minutes.
Inside the final five minutes Sanders crossed for Haddrell who forced a decent save from the home keeper. Sports then piled on the pressure but Town were up to the task and held on through five minutes of added time to collect only their third league win of the season.
Leek Town: Roberts, Sanders, Bell, Melling, Thomas, Hall, Shelley, Danylyk, Haddrell, Wright (Grice 62), Urwin. Unused subs: Bridge, Roberts.