Evo-Stik NPL First Division South
Leek Town 2 Sutton Coldfield Town 1
LEEK Town produced their "best" performance all season to dispatch in-form Sutton Coldfield and claim back-to-back league victories for the first time in their 2012/13 campaign Tim Grice's first-half brace was enough to give the Blues all three points against a Sutton Coldfield side who had won their previous three games. Lee Pearon pulled one back midway through the second half but the hosts, who struck the woodwork no fewer than three times, held on to secure the win.
Blues boss Lee Casswell said: "That’s the best we’ve played all season, Sutton were doing well and expected to get something here today but we played well and deserved the victory. It was great to get another three points on the board. Having games in hand is OK but points are what matters in this game. "The score-line flattered them a little. We could well have netted five times but for the woodwork. But we really dug in and held on to the lead today and that’s what we asked for from the players. I was delighted for Tim Grice – he takes a lot of stick but he has bided his time in recent weeks and took his chances well.
I must also mention our skipper Matt Haddrell who puts his all into a game for Leek Town. At the moment he can't buy a goal but he is invaluable to the side."
Casswell recalled Haddrell, Michael Thomas, Anthony Danylyk and Dan Smith to the starting line-up after they were all rested for the Senior Cup defeat at Stafford earlier in the week.
Chapman blasted way over from distance for Sutton before Jamie Sheldon stabbed wide at the near post following a free-kick in a bright start for the visitors. Blues responded in the sixth minute when Dan Smith crossed in from the left and Dan Shelley’s flicked shot almost caught the Sutton keeper off guard.
Less than 60 seconds later Daryl Taylor escaped offside flag before bursting into the box but Dan Lloyd-Weston got a touch to the ball to forced the Royals striker wide before the danger was cleared. Town then began to dominate. Tim Grice steered a header straight at the keeper in the 13th before opening the scoring two minutes later. George Melling played the ball out of defence for Sam Hall who split the visitor’s defence with a superb pass for Grice who out-paced his marker to hammer past the stranded keeper.
Eight minutes later Leek extended their advantage. Lloyd-Weston hoisted a free-kick deep into the Royals' half. The ball bounced over Haddrell and two defenders for Grice to ram home with a tremendous angled shot on the half volley from 10 yards out.
The visitors ventured forward in shortly after the half hour mark. Ramsey-Dickson did well to get in a shot from the edge of the box but dragged his effort wide of the near post. Two minutes later a great ball from Shelley caught the Royals defence square again and it took the attention of two defenders to prevent Grice from netting his hat-trick.
Moments later the impressive Grice burst into the visitors’ area and went past two defenders before getting off a shot that thudded into the foot of the upright. Grice was denied again in the 44th minute before Lloyd-Weston pulled off a point-blank reaction save to deny Ramsey-Dickson into time added on.
Town opened the second half on the attack and in the 47th minute Tom Urwin put in a determined run and cross for Shelley who outwitted two defenders on the 18-yard line to fire towards goal but Lee Evans pulled off a superb diving save to concede a corner. When the flag kick came in Sam Hall saw his header cleared off the line.
Grice then came within inches of extending the lead with a superb volley on the run from 25 yards. On the hour mark Melling kept the lead intact when he threw himself among flying boots to superbly block an effort on the edge of the box. However, the Royals pulled a goal back in the 67th minute when Chapman who squeezed the ball home through Lloyd-Weston’s legs.
Just 60 seconds later a cross from Sanders found Haddrell but the burly striker's header struck the upright. Town rode their luck in the 70th minute when a teasing cross came in from the left and Chapman lifted his shot over the crossbar from only six yards out.
In the 74th minute Leek almost regained their two-goal advantage but when Sanders’ cross came in and Haddrell’s shot cannoned back off the crossbar. Melling then headed wide before Danylyk failed to get any power on a shot. Town keeper Lloyd-Weston made sure of the points deep into added time when got his body behind a tricky shot that bounced right in front of him.