BLUES turned in a below-par performance at the Silverlands on Saturday when they went down to higher league Buxton in their final pre-season game before the league kicks off this Saturday.
The home side totally dominated the first half and went in at the break two goals ahead – although it could have been many more.
Two minutes into the second half, Buxton netted a third – but that was a signal for Leek to mount a big come-back and by midway through the second half, Blues had pulled two goals back.
However, Bucks netted a scrappy fourth goal after the referee had missed a foul on Karl Espley in the second minute of added time.
After the game, assistant manager Peter Ward said: "I thought this was a proverbial game of two halves.
"We were poor first half, they dominated play and we could have been more down by half time.
"However, we were pleased with the second half performance after changing things round during the break, with Shotton and Dicker providing more height.
"There was a big improvement and their keeper pulled off a few good saves and we were well in the game until they scored a disputed goal an added time."
In the absence of manager Lee Casswell, assistants Matt Beeby and Peter Ward were also without Ant Danylyk and Danny Chadwick, and so Tim Grice and Mitch Husbands were included in the starting line-up.
Goalkeeper Ben Chapman tweaked his groin during the warm-up session and was replaced by 18-year-old Bradley Moorhouse.
Buxton took the lead in the 18th minute when Steve Istead tracked across field and with Moorhouse racing way off his line, the Buxton skipper angled a shot wide of him into the net.
The hosts stretched their lead in the 30th minute when a good cross into the box was met by Jonathan Williams and his bullet header bulged the back of the net.
Leek changed things round for the second half, with Dicker and Lowe replacing Donnelly and Shelley, Jackson being pushed forward and Bell slotting in at left back.
But things got worse for the Blues before they got better, with Buxton adding to their score two minutes into the second half.
However, Leek went on to settle into the game and pulled a goal back on 57 minutes when Ash Jackson ran at the Buxton defence to drill the ball home from 10 yards.
Two minutes later, Jackson turned provider when he set up Shotton, who reduced the deficit to one goal.
The double strike seemed to unsettle Buxton and in the 64th minute, Shotton played a good ball in for Jackson, who fired inches wide and once again Bell was inches from making contact.
Buxton made sure with that late, disputed effort by Tuton.
Leek Town: Moorhead, Smith, Jackson, Donnely, Espley, Hall, Shelley, MaGuire, Grice, Husbands, Bell. Subs: Dicker, Lowe, Shotton, Chapman.