A 2-0 victory against visitors Lincoln United saw Leek increase their lead at the top of the table to eight points due to second-placed Stamford’s inactivity. The margin of victory should probably have been higher but this time it was not because of Leek’s wastefulness in front of goal. Rather, it was a combination of an excellent goalkeeping performance by Tiernan Brooks and dogged defending by the Whites’ backline that was superbly led by skipper Michael Jacklin who worked hard to thwart Leek’s forwards.
Rob Stevenson was the striker in particular who suffered at the hands of the visitors’ intransigence but eventually netted a second to settle the game after Charlie Walford had opened the scoring shortly before the break.
Brooks first showcased his talents just before the quarter-hour mark. Stevenson brushed aside his marker before bursting into the box. The effort on goal was parried but Brooks showed his agility to deflect the follow-up effort from Matt Bell onto his goalframe and off to safety.
The Notts County loanee keeper then did well to use his foot to turn away a low cross from Stevenson before the Blues’ striker was once again denied as Brooks made himself large to block a close-range effort. Darren Chadwick then came close with a downward header as he rose to meet a corner.
The home supporters were becoming increasingly restive as the half wore on, especially since Lincoln had come close to opening their own account. Slack defending had allowed a cross from the right to reach Cristovao Pissi at the near post but the young striker headed wide with Danny Roberts flat-footed. Then Josh Agbozo was caught in possession and this allowed the ball to be worked to the far post from where Kallum Smith was only able to hit the outside of the woodwork.
Leek finally settled the supporters’ nerves seven minutes before the break. A slick passing move saw Bell feed Stevenson on the right and, for once, the visiting defence failed to clear the low cross and Walford was presented with a tap-in at the far post.
With Lincoln largely toothless up front, it seemed that the opener would open up the floodgates and it was certainly true that Leek had the upper hand after the restart but Lincoln continued to be a tough nut to crack.
Brooks had to be at his acrobatic best to tip a deflected effort from Bell over his bar. Stevenson continued to be denied with the pick of the saves being a dive to his left that pushed away a fiercely driven shot while Walford and Ollie Harrison also saw close-range efforts saved.
However even Brooks’ brilliance could not prevent a superbly worked Leek second. A sweeping move saw Bell release Stevenson into the area. The defenders were beaten by the Leek number eleven’s movement before the ball was passed across the keeper’s face and into the bottom corner.
Following the match Leek boss Neil Baker spoke exclusively to Moorlands Radio, saying” The crowd got frustrated today which worked its way through to the players. We can’t always be two or three goals ahead. Lincoln were really at it today. They were bold. They played three up and put the extra man in midfield. Without really having much quality up front, they really frustrated us. The crowd have seen us two up early in the game but that can’t always happen.
You’re there to be shot at when you’re top of the league and teams are out to make it difficult for us. And why shouldn’t they? We anticipated this would happen and worked on spreading the ball wide on Thursday night. We created a lot of chances and their goalkeeper was top notch.”