Leighton Town – 0
Berkhamsted – 0
A healthy crowd attended this South Midlands Premier Division top of the table clash at Bell Close on Tuesday evening, but the sides could not be separated despite both having numerous chances. Leighton had the better chances in the first half but were forced to defend for long periods after the break and had goal keeper Tom Wyant to thank for denying the visitors with some stunning saves, and when he was beaten his defence were on hand; one late clearance off the line from Tom Guiney especially.
The stalemate left Berkhamsted the happier of the two sides at the final whistle, as they remain top of the table with their hosts sitting third, but with fourteen games left yet to play, Leighton still have plenty of time to reduce the thirteen-point gap between the two promotion chasing clubs. Before the game Town manager Scott Reynolds was presented with the Team of the Month award from the South Midlands League for their superb unbeaten run in January.
The opening moments saw the away side take the game to Leighton, forcing two early corners before one half clearance fell to Adiel Mannion on the edge of the area and he fired just wide of Wyants right hand post. After weathering the storm Town slowly grew into the game, and on thirteen minutes a great attack down the right from Lea Coulter saw him fizz the ball across the six-yard box but with no one anywhere near forward enough, the Berko right back was able to clear.
Tom Silford & Lorrell Smith then combined well down the left and fed Matt Hall who made a run through the Berko back line, however the left back couldn’t connect with the ball properly and his attempted lob saw keeper Carl Tasker have to take a couple of steps back before claiming in mid-air. At the other end a ball across the Leighton box looked lost until Ashton Campbell retrieved, he pulled back to Steve Hawes who thumped high over the crossbar.
Back came Leighton with Alex O’Brien who collected a clearance in midfield, he splayed the ball out wide to Smith who attacked the right wing, making some distance he then crossed back into O’Brien who had continued his run but from twelve yards he never really connected properly on the sticky pitch and drove narrowly wide of the near post. Carl Tappin then threaded a great ball through for O’Brien but again a lack of decent connection saw Tasker behind the ball all the way.
Campbell then cut in from the Berkhamsted left and snapped a low drive wide, from the goal kick the ball was headed straight back into the Leighton half and Ashley Morrissey was away on goal, reaching the corner of the box he blazed over the top. Campbell then had another low shot saved by Wyant low down at his near post, what seemed a regulatory save hit a bobble and with two Berko players running in the keeper had to stick a hand out to quickly push out for a corner.
Leighton had a spell in the Berkhamsted area which saw numerous opportunities arise but some unselfish play saw each player trying to pass, or cushion the ball to someone in a better position, but it would just not sit for someone to hit, and credit to the visitors who did not panic and simply hurried and pressured until the danger was eventually cleared. A cross from the right from Tappin then found George Boland unmarked in front of goal but his touch escaped him, and the ball bounced off him into the waiting gloves of Tasker.
Three minutes before the break a Leighton throw deep in the Berko half saw a defender go to clear, the ball bouncing off a team mate and hanging in the air, Tappin was first to reach it but could only lift over the top. A minute later saw the away side convinced they should have had a penalty, Morrissey got down the right and headed towards goal, inside the box he went down under a challenge, but the referee awarded the corner despite the huge protests. Matt Pateman met the corner at the near post and his glancing header flashed across the goal face eluding everyone and going out for a goal kick. There was still time for Smith at the other end to drag a shot wide of goal from a throw in. H/T: 0-0
Seven minutes into the second half Berkhamsted sent over a cross from the left which found midfielder Dan Jones in on goal, but his left footed effort looped over the crossbar, and a minute later another cross saw Pateman running in at the back post but he was always underneath the ball and could only head up and Wyant gratefully gathered with both hands.
Morrissey then threaded a great pass out to Mannion to the right of the Leighton goal, but he could only screw wide, and on the hour mark another cross from the left wing was met on the six-yard line right in front of goal by Morrissey and his shot was brilliantly tipped away by Wyant. The Leighton keeper was back in action soon after when a goal kick was headed straight back at him, in behind the red defence was Campbell who went for goal & Wyant again earned the applause of the crowd tipping away for a corner.
Within minutes Wyant was pushing another shot onto his own crossbar which bounced over for a corner, and it seemed only a matter of time before the deadlock was broken. With eight minutes left Campbell attacked down the Berko right, Hall went out and blocked the run but, in the process, lost track of the ball, in a flash the Berko winger was away with the ball, he flashed the ball across the Town six-yard box but again no team mates were forward enough to get anything on it.
Berkhamsted started to push harder as the clock ticked down, a clearance from the Town defence saw left back Josh Chamberlain drive forward and hit first time but over the bar. With a minute left of regulatory time, the away side thought they’d won it, a header from substitute Sean Coughlan was brilliantly saved by Wyant but as the ball seemed to roll towards the goal line, Tom Guiney somehow launched the ball away, the referee & his assistant were then besieged with claims the ball had crossed the line but all to no avail.
With an additional eight minutes of time added, Leighton had chances of their own at the death, Matt Hall seized upon a loose ball in midfield and surged forward, evading a couple of challenges the move ended with Bruno Brito shooting over his shoulder, his effort flew amongst a sea of bodies in the Berko box, but no one got near to trouble Tasker although a slight touch somewhere saw a corner awarded. There was still time for the corner, Leighton piled bodies forward but Berko defended resolutely clearing as far as Brito who thumped high over the bar. H/T: 0-0
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After the match Sports Shots caught up with Town boss Scott Reynolds:
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