Leek back to winning ways after narrow victory over Loughborough

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Leek got back to winning ways with a narrow victory over Loughborough with Chris Baker netting the vital goal late in the game. The Dynamo players, though, will have travelled back to Leicestershire feeling that they had worked hard enough – particularly defensively – to have got something from a game that could have produced more goals. Both sides were grateful that the goalframe came to their rescue at various points in the game.

The first such instance came relatively early in the game when Rob Stevenson’s effort was deflected for a corner. The resulting flag-kick saw Darren Chadwick create space for himself but his header hit the underside of the bar and the ball was scrambled away by the visiting defence.

The Moes had their piece of misfortune early in the second period when Brad Munn unleashed a pile-driver from twenty-five yards that had Danny Roberts beaten but cannoned back from the angle of upright and crossbar. The Blues were relieved that no visiting player was able to take advantage of the loose ball.

The third intervention by the woodwork came midway through the second half. Good work by Jake Twyford – who introduced a much-needed energy to Leek’s attack – put Stevenson clear only for his powerful shot to strike the bar.

With goalscoring chances at a premium, many thought that the near-miss signalled an inevitable goalless draw. But the home side was able to conjure up one piece of magic to break the deadlock. Excellent approach work by Louis Keenan and Stevenson put Tim Grice clear on the left and his low cross gave Baker the opportunity to score. The chance was gratefully accepted with a left-footed close-range finish.

In fairness, Leek had looked the more likely to score with the Moes’ goal surviving a number of close shaves. Grice had been denied by Dynamo keeper Jason Alexander who used his giant frame to great effect to block a goal-bound effort. Alexander also showed his athleticism late in the game to fingertip a fabulous half-volley from Stevenson over the bar.

The home defenders worked tirelessly to protect their keeper, restricting their guests to a handful of chances. It could have been so different had Loughborough made more from an early opening. Good work from Karl Demidh and Alex Steadman opened up the Blues’ defence but Rob Norris was unable to sort his feet out in time with the goal gaping.

Dynamo’s only other effort of note was a deflected drive from Demidh that forced Roberts into a fingertip save.

Following the match Leek Manager Neil Baker spoke exclusively to Moorlands Radio. He said “Apart from the first fifteen minutes we controlled the game and I am really pleased with our performance. Our defenders held together and denied them any clear-cut chances. Apart from a few efforts early in the game and one late in the game, and obviously they hit the bar early in the second half they didn’t threaten for any length of time.

We didn’t make as many chances as we would have liked to do but I thought we remained patient and that was the pleasing thing. It was a difficult afternoon for us which we thought it would be but I thought we really stuck to our guns and kept playing the football and I thought we got our just rewards today.

You always want your substitutions – particularly your attacking substitutions – to have an impact on the game and I thought Jake Twyford did. He made a difference, got us another player higher up the pitch and some his touches were very good. I thought he played intelligently.”