Leighton Town – 0
1874 Northwich – 1
The superb Leighton Town FA Vase run is over after 1874 Northwich came to Bell Close on Saturday and claimed a single goal victory from the penalty spot, and that was all that could separate the two sides. In all fairness, the match did not live up to the expectations or hopes of the huge crowd squeezed inside the ground; there was plenty of noise, colour and ceremony but the football did not match the enthusiasm of both sets of supporters. Whether nerves or the occasion got to the players, it wasn’t one to remember, and once Northwich got their noses in front they were happy to defend anything their hosts could throw at them. With the cup frenzy now over, concentration turns to finishing as high in the Spartan South Midlands Premier Division as they can in their pursuit of promotion back to the Southern League.
Leighton made the better start to the game, Lea Coulter in the first minute used the outside of his boot trying to curl one inside the back post from the right hand side of the box, but the ball did not bend in enough as it sailed harmlessly wide. Dom Marsala had a better chance moments later when he collected the ball in midfield, he laid off to Coulter who attacked the right wing before squaring back to Marsala who had made ground inside the area but he mis-hit his shot and pulled wide.
Northwich had to wait ten minutes before the first chance, when Matt Russell crossed from their left and right in front of Tom Wyant in the Town goal Samuel Hind somehow scooped the ball up and over the crossbar. The visitors almost gave their hosts a gift shortly after when a routine ball into their half saw Jack Pritchard turn and go to pass the ball back to his keeper Greg Hall but he sliced his pass and for a second or two it looked as though the ball was going to roll into the net, but Hall recovered to save his team mates blushes.
From the corner the ball was swung in perfectly towards the head of Town skipper Tom Guiney who looked odds on to connect and thump at goal, but Hall was off his line and pushed the ball away in the nick of time, almost off the head of the centre half. On twenty-one minutes Hall was again denying the home side from taking the lead, Alex O’Brien tried his luck from thirty yards out with a dipping drive that had the keeper back peddling before leaping to push over the bar with both hands.
Four minutes later saw the deciding moment of the game. Northwich were on the attack with Jake Parker to the left of the area, as he looked for space a tackle from Marsala saw him felled and the referee who was right behind the action blew and pointed to the spot. Although Wyant went the right way, he couldn’t prevent Scott McGowan from drilling into the bottom corner to give the away side the lead.
Up until that moment Leighton had been the better side, but the goal changed the whole complexion of the match. 1874 came into the game lifted by their lead and started asking their own questions of the Leighton back line. Taylor Kennerley attacked down the left channel and his cross cum shot almost crept inside the back post but was eventually cleared. James Hatch then had a chance when played in down the Leighton left, shoulder to shoulder with a defender he took the shot on early from just inside the box but Hall was comfortable falling to his left to gather. H/T: 0-1
Seven minutes into the second period almost saw Northwich extend their lead when a loose ball in the Leighton box was allowed to bounce and Hind nipped in between the reds defence but could only side foot straight into Wyant’s gloves. Some intricate passing on the edge of the Northwich box between O’Brien and Marsala then saw Hatch presented with the opportunity to shoot from twelve yards but his shot was straight at Hill.
As the half wore on the away side managed the game to their benefit, mopping up anything Leighton tried, forcing manager Scott Reynolds into freshening up the front line by introducing Lorrell Smith for Lea Coulter. Almost immediately Smith had a run at the 1874 defence but again they dealt with the threat without too much discomfort.
George Boland was also introduced to the action and a free kick into the box found him twelve-yards out creeping in behind the defence, however he didn’t connect and could only screw the ball away from goal where it was cleared away. Lewis McBride crossed from the left and a defender blocked to kill the ball dead, running in Carl Tappin sent the ball back into the danger area but with no one in red anywhere near it was again launched to safety.
With five minutes left Smith robbed Ryan Mitchell out on the left and headed for goal, on reaching the eighteen-yard line he snatched at the chance but simply curled straight into Hill’s gloves. Northwich then saw out the remainder to book their place in the two-legged semi-finals, and leave Leighton heart broken. F/T: 0-1
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After the game Sports Shots spoke with Leighton manager Scott Reynolds:
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