For the second match in succession Leek struggled to overcome stubborn opposition and it was only a howler from Glossop keeper Harry Allen that turned the game in the Blues’ favour.
Dan Trickett-Smith was the benefactor of the blunder and his goal cancelled that of Jamie Rainford whose strike was a rare highlight in a drab first half. The Blues took advantage of the stroke of fortune and an improved level of performance saw Tim Grice snatch the points with a stunning strike late in the game.
With Trickett-Smith and Rob Stevenson returning to the squad, it appeared on paper that the home side would have the firepower to easily swat aside the challenge of their visitors from the lower half of the table. However, the Hillmen set out their stall from the start with an intense pressing game -particularly in Leek’s defensive third – and an ability to transition quickly from defence to attack.
The visitors also looked good on set pieces. A dangerous free-kick had inadvertently been blocked by a Glossop player with the Blues’ defenders at sixes and sevens and the opening goal came from a long throw.
Leek were unable to cope with the long ball into the box and Rainford pounced on the loose ball to clinically finish and add to his ever-increasing seasonal tally. Glossop celebrated the strike long and hard and, with Leek having such a long unbeaten run at Harrison Park and a potent strike force of their own, to many it seemed that the celebrations were premature.
However, a ponderous but willing defensive set up that was well marshalled by skipper Lee Wilshaw did a good enough job to ensure that Allen played a spectator role for most of the first hour.
Despite a raising of performance after the break, Leek continued to struggle to create chances against a Glossop side that appeared more than capable of managing their way to victory.
All was to change in the 62nd minute. Trickett-Smith attempted the home side’s first effort on goal. The low drive lacked power and on most other days would have been seen as nothing more than a back pass. Unfortunately for the visitors, this was the day that disaster struck. The keeper misjudged the strength of the strike and allowed the ball to pass under his body for an unlikely equaliser.
For the first time in the game Glossop looked disorganised. Allen made some amends for his mistake by turning a shot from Will Saxon aside but could do nothing about the eventual winner. Billy Reeves did well to win the ball in midfield and fed Saxon wide on the right. Saxon used his pace to round his marker and deliver a perfect cross which was met by Grice who hit powerfully past the despairing keeper.
Glossop threw everything at Leek in the closing stages as they tried to rescue a point but it was Leek’s turn to show their game-management skills and pick up the points. In fairness, Glossop deserved to get some reward from their efforts and loud and long recriminations were heard from the visitors’ dressing room as the post mortem was conducted.
Following the match, Leek manager Neil Baker spoke exclusively to Moorlands Radio and said:
“It was a difficult game that we expected. We said before the game that Glossop are resolute. Their away form is decent.
“They’ve had some good results.
“They’re never going to destroy a team but make it hard for their opponents. That’s what they did today. The two guys who run them made it a very difficult game for us. Our players didn’t have the confidence to play out from the back.
“We should have had the confidence to play out even though we were pressed. We were hitting a lot of hopeful balls and playing hopeful football. That’s no good for me. We don’t practice like that in the week so why should we play like that on a Saturday?
“You have to show a little more courage to get the ball down and play the ball through. We played better in the second half and had a bit of luck with the first goal but I don’t think we were lucky to win the game.”