Leek had a comparatively comfortable passage through to the next round of the Buildbase FA Trophy as they saw off their Staffordshire opponents Chasetown. Managed by former Blues’ player Scott Dundas, the Scholars rarely threatened to take the spoils and eventually fell 2-0. It was almost inevitable that Tim Grice would open the scoring and the result was sealed by a superb solo effort from Rob Stevenson.
It all looked as if it could have been so different in the early stages when Daniel Westwood was played in behind the home defence but the Chasetown number nine was unable to shift his feet quickly enough and the chance was gone.
For the rest of the half it was mainly Leek who showed the attacking potential with Stevenson hitting the ball narrowly wide and Grice forcing Curtis Pond into a save. The Blues’ forwards were particularly nimble and were causing untold problems for the visiting defenders. Eventually that speed of thought and action took its toll and the deadlock was broken.
Stevenson nipped in to rob a defender, quickly slipped the ball out to Lewis Short who fed Grice. The end result was the expected goal from Grice who had freed himself to hit home and notch his 182nd goal on his 350th appearance.
Leek could have been further ahead by the interval with Short coming the closest to doubling the lead when he narrowly failed to meet a deep cross from Jason Law at the far post.
The first period ended in what could have been a serious blow for the Blues. Mansfield loanee Jamie Chisholm – who bears an uncanny resemblance to David Luiz – had formed a young but very effective central defensive partnership with Josh Agbozo. But his evening came to an end when he was forced off with a hamstring problem.
Neil Baker was able to rejig his back four and Leek continued to dominate their opponents. Westwood became an increasingly isolated and frustrated figure as through balls were over-hit and moves by the visitors were generally broken down.
The visitors only had fleeting chances to get back into the game. George Cater cut in from the right and beat Danny Roberts but Agbozo was on the line to clear. And a late free kick beat the defensive wall but was comfortably pouched by the Leek keeper.
By that time Leek had already sealed the deal. Lewis Riley-Stewart had worked manfully at the heart of Chasetown’s defence but he gave the ball away on the halfway line. The ball was seized on by Stevenson who left the defenders in his wake with his burst of speed and chose the right moment to lift the ball over the advancing Pond for the game’s decider.
After the match Leek’s Assistant Manager Pete Ward spoke exclusively to Moorlands Radio. He said” The first half we set off like a train. Some of the football we played was really really good and I just felt that we could have been two or three up at half-time. But second half we come out and Rob Stevenson’s picked the ball up virtually in his own half, run the whole length of the pitch and still put in a great finish.
And the rest we’ve done professionally. We haven’t allowed them any chances and we defended really really well.
We’ve run out of superlatives for Gricey. The guy’s a phenomenon. We know we have to nurse him, to look after him but he is a godsend to the club.
Adam Porter, Law, Jessy Bavanganga they’re all young lads. They haven’t got forty or fifty games behind them but they have slotted in well and done well for us.”