The calendar may have turned its page to the New Year but for Leek Town there was to be no new chapter in their story. The Blues’ fans were very happy to note that their beloved football club was still sticking to the old storyline. Another win. Another clean sheet. And more goals for Tim Grice. In fact, four of them as the club’s all-time leading goal scorer closes in on a double century of goals.
Sadly, for the visitors Sheffield, a look at the video highlights would only reveal a horror show of below-par defending and toothless attacking that meant the home side never really had to move out of second gear to pick up the points.
Leek opened the scoring as early as the tenth minute when Charlie Walford beat his full-back to send a perfect cross to the far post. With the visiting defence nowhere in sight, Grice was able to pick his spot with a header that went across the face of goal to enter the net via the base of the far post.
Sheffield came into the game a little more after falling behind but failed to carve any real openings and any hopes that a comeback could be staged were dampened three minutes before the break.
A through ball by Louis Keenan split the defence apart as they vainly looked for the offside flag. Grice was able to advance into the visitors’ area and calmly place the ball past the stranded keeper.
A more determined effort by the visitors on the restart saw them register their only attempt on goal – a tame shot by Jordan Chapell that was caught with nonchalant ease by Danny Roberts – but the game was put to bed in the middle of the half. A fine move down the right flank saw Lewis Short lift the ball to the unmarked Grice who completed his hat-trick with another header.
The Leek number nine had spurned good chances to add to his tally with a first-time drive in the first half that went narrowly wide and then a missed header in the second half. But Grice finally notched his fourth when Billy Reeves swung the ball deep into Sheffield’s area where Grice rose above his marker to loop a header over Kelly’s head.
Darren Chadwick almost added a late fifth but Kelly did well to palm away the Leek skipper’s downward header.
To be fair to the visitors anything that could go wrong probably did do. Two early substitutions had to be made when Ashley Grayson never recovered from Marc Grocott’s heavy challenge and Ben Turner clashed heads with Jessy Bavanganga. And add in the fact that Marc Newsham’s goal on the stroke of half-time was ruled out – probably incorrectly – by the assistant’s flag. But nothing should detract from a powerful display from the Blues.
Following the game Leek boss Neil Baker spoke exclusively to Moorlands Sport and said “It was efficient wasn’t it. It wasn’t fantastic but we did the job, scored some good goals and kept another clean sheet. I can’t be too critical or too harsh after a game like that.
Grice was under the weather believe it or not but he turned out, got his goals and could have got a couple more. That’s what he does. He’s a great lad to have around the club.
I thought Jake Twyford was fine. He worked very hard. He’s a good footballer and has a great footballing brain. I would have liked him to have got a goal. I’ve said I don’t want to rely on Grice and Rob Stevenson all the time. It was nice to win a game without one of your main strikers. It gives the team belief.”