After a run of three games without victory, Leek got back to winning ways with a thumping win over local visitors Market Drayton Town. Tim Grice and James Kirby helped themselves to a couple of goals apiece with Matt Bell and Jack Wakefield adding the extras while Rob Stevenson gave the assist in five of the goals scored.
Leek started off shakily as they almost conceded in the opening minute. The Gingerbreads broke up a Leek attack and hit back with a swift counter punch as Sam Leyland’s pace allowed him to tear through the home midfield before forcing a good save from Danny Roberts.
But the Blues were soon ahead after a flowing four-man move saw Stevenson provide the cross for Grice to score from close range.
A mixture of decent defending and over-hit crosses meant that the visitors kept the deficit to a single goal until a minute before the break. Stevenson was once again the provider as his cross reached the far post from where Bell nodded home with a downward header.
That goal effectively ended Market Drayton’s resistance. The visitors had done well to that point with Leyland, Brendon Price and Lucas Green-Birch all using their pace to cause concerns in the home back three and Jamie Hands playing the captain’s role to perfection. But Drayton had scored only one goal in competitive football before this game and looked unlikely to pull any rabbits out of the hat in the second half.
The Gingerbreads looked a dispirited side at the beginning of the second period and Stevenson’s trickery deflated their fragile confidence with his every touch. Stevenson inevitably provided the cross for the third with a low effort across the face of goal that was converted by the sliding Wakefield nine minutes into the second period.
The fourth goal was the only strike that did not involve Stevenson. This time it was Bell who played a peach of a cross to the far post from where Wakefield headed back into the path of Grice. The Leek legend had time to fluff his first attempt before putting away his 202nd goal for the club.
Kirby came on for a cameo performance and scored with his first touch – a close-range tap-in provided by Stevenson – before the game was wrapped up ten minutes from time with Kirby’s second that was an action replay of his first.
In truth Leek could have won by more. Grice had a goal disallowed in a tight offside decision after Sam Agius had failed to hold on to a powerful drive from Stevenson. Grice later hit the bar with the goal gaping at his mercy and Agius did well to come out on top in a one-on-one with Stevenson.
Leek have proved so far this season that they can pick off the more timid beasts placed before them with ease. But do they still retain last season’s power to swipe away the stronger challengers in the battle to be King of the NPL jungle?
Manager Neil Baker hinted as much when he spoke exclusively to Moorlands Radio. He said “Take nothing away from Kidsgrove. They did their homework and stopped us from playing. We were better on Saturday but did not convert our chances. Tonight, we did and we were ruthless. I can’t knock Rob Stevenson tonight. I’ve said to him. Wisbech couldn’t handle you. Market Drayton couldn’t handle you. But those are two sides that will struggle. Can you do it against Cleethorpes – who are a good team – on Saturday? I watched Cleethorpes a couple of weeks ago and they have good players like Scott Vernon and Ross Hannah but don’t seem the same side as last year. But we shall see!!”