Leek Town 2 Radcliffe Borough 1
"LACKLUSTRE" Leek Town maintained their 100 per cent record in cup competitions this term despite failing to maintain the high standards hit in previous weeks.
Matt Haddrell fired the Blues into a 10th minute lead before Radcliffe Borough enjoyed large chunks of possession in Saturday's FA trophy first qualifying round clash. But Borough lacked a killer touch in front of goal and Karl Charlton doubled Town's lead on 72 minutes - before substitute Lequin Esdalle ensured a nervy final few minutes for the hosts.
Relieved Town boss Lee Casswell said: "I'm really pleased to have got through to the next round although I wasn't too pleased with how we performed. We were lacklustre and seemed to wait for things to happen but then we went on to score two goals so credit to the lads for digging in to grind out the result.
"The players have set themselves a high standard over the last few weeks but on Saturday we failed to reach those heights. There's more to come from a few who played. We are going to need to be better than that next Saturday but the players wont need any motivation with Altrincham visiting Harrison Park in the FA Cup."
Casswell made two changes to his side with new signing Dan Shelley making his debut at the expense of Rob Stevenson and Sam Hall preferred in midfield to Ash Woolliscroft.
Leek opened on the attack with Shelley firing over from 22 yards. At the other end keeper Daniel Lloyd-Weston had to be alert to deny Borough striker Ben Wharton.
Blues spurned a gilt-edged opportunity in the eighth minute when Haddrell was through one-on-one with the Borough keeper but Nick Culkin pulled off a fine save. Minutes later the veteran striker had his name on the score-sheet when Peter Wright played him in and the big striker found the bottom corner.
Borough then took charge but struggled to open up the Blues defence. A couple of shots were blocked before Wharton's dangerous burst into the box came to nothing. In the 22nd minute Town threatened when Wright set up Shelley who superbly turned two defenders only the blast over from just inside the box.
Five minutes from the break Borough came close to levelling the tie. But when Mark Jones floated a free-kick into the box Martin Parker steered his header over the crossbar. A subdued Town came closer when Sam Hall fired in a superb shot from 25 yards that thudded into the upright on the stroke of half time. The rebound fell to Charlton 18 yards out but he was unable keep his shot down.
Charlton fired wide from 30 yards in the opening minutes of the second period before Borough's Chris McDonough drove a decent effort over the crossbar. Two minutes later Wharton attacked down the right before setting up the unmarked Matt Chadwick who fired inches wide of the upright.
Wharton continued to threaten without hitting the mark and on 64 minutes twisted and turned inside the box only to fire over after working himself into a good position Moments later Davidson went on a good run before laying the ball off to Hall whose shot was brilliantly turned round by Culkin as Town reminded the visitors of their goal threat. And the hosts doubled their advantage five minutes later when Charlton planted Sanders' corner in off the underside of the bar. In the 73rd minute Wharton could only find the side netting. But the goal they had been threatening arrived with eight minutes to go when substitute Lequin Esdalle drove home following a corner.
Leek were rocking at that stage and Lloyd-Weston had to be at his best to keep out a shot from Wharton while the follow-up flew across the face of goal and out of play. Borough then piled forward and Town survived three corners in quick succession in a addition to four minutes of extra time before celebrating the win.
Leek Town: Lloyd-Weston, Sanders, Bridge (Bell 58), Smith, Melling, Hall, Wright, Davidson, Haddrell, Charlton (Woolliscroft 82), Shelley (Urwin 86). Unused subs: Stevenson, Grice.
Radcliffe: Culkin, Battersby, Mortimer, Shaw, Connor, Parker (Esdaile 57), Kelly (Hudson 58 (Jones 68)), Jones, Wharton, McDonough, Chadwick. Unused Subs: None Attendance: 281