Many Leek Supporters attending this game will have firmly believed that the three points would be easily attained.
After all, Colne were languishing at the wrong end of the table and had just suffered a midweek drubbing at the hands of Warrington Rylands.
The truth turned out to be a little more uncomfortable. In a game of few clear-cut chances, the visitors were stubborn and well-organised opponents who showed some neat passing ability that often matched that of the Blues.
The major difference was that Colne had little in the way of firepower and that, despite Leek being shorn of a number of key players through injury, was the difference that decided the game’s destiny.
The strike from Scott Wara was something of a collector’s item and was deserving of being a winning goal at any level of football but it took a second well-executed effort from Tim Grice to settle the points.
Leek began strongly in an attempt to quickly break down resistance but found returning keeper Hakan Burton in fine form as he helped a Louis Keenan header over his bar.
The early pressure from the Blues was repelled with Colne quickly making chances of their own. Danny Roberts was forced into a good save when Prince Haywood was released by an astute pass from Oli Roberts.
The home side had a second wind, though, and, despite some excellent defensive work from Tom Dean – who was superb throughout – and Jack Worrall, pressure was built on the Reds’ defence. Three corners were forced in quick succession and the last of these was only half-cleared to the edge of the area from where Wara struck a perfect shot that arrowed into the top corner beyond a helpless keeper.
Elliot Rokka had a surging run but hit straight at the keeper as Colne tried to level matters and started the second half on the front foot with Danny Edwards having a fierce drive blocked.
Colne almost paid the price for their ambition, though, when a break-away saw Grice lob a stranded Burton only for Dean to be on hand to clear from the line. The Leek striker was to make his mark shortly afterwards when a foul by Haywood gave Keenan the chance to fire in a free-kick that was glanced home by Grice in a move that came straight from the training ground.
Harry Winstanley’s tackle brought Will Saxon’s run to an end as the Blues looked to consolidate their lead and it was Colne who came close to adding to the scoreline.
Substitute Jez Ughegbulan was lively after being introduced and almost pulled a goal back with a strong run that broke through the home defences. Roberts produced a fingertip save that turned the powerful effort onto his crossbar. Late efforts from Haywood were well-defended and Leek ran out winners in what had been a competitive match.
Following the game, Blues’ manager Neil Baker spoke exclusively to Moorlands Radio and said:
“I expected a hard game. I saw Colne in midweek. The scoreline suggested a hiding but if you watched the game, it was hard to see how they got beat because they played ever so well. Colne had as much of the game as Warrington. I thought it would be a dangerous game. What they’ve got is good players without having much thrust up front. We handled them fairly comfortably, I think. Wara’s goal was a bonus. We weren’t expecting that. We expect goals from a centre half but not from the edge of the box. I’m not sure we’ve got more than two goals in the team when you’re missing the calibre of striker we are. It pleased me that we kept a clean sheet and restricted them to shots from long-range. If we had kept a clean sheet last week, we would have two more points.”