HomeFeaturedLocal SportLeek emerge 3-2 winners in "El Staffico"

Leek emerge 3-2 winners in “El Staffico”

Leek continued their run of form by edging a pulsating match against local rivals Kidsgrove Athletic
but were given as hard a game as any this season by a Grove side that was clearly concerned with
maintaining their own unbeaten run.

A 2-1 lead for the Blues at the break hardly told the story of a first half largely dominated by the
home side. It came courtesy of a cracking goal from Lewis Short and a close-range effort from Marc
Grocott on the stroke of half-time after Ant Malbon had equalised.

Leek were the better side after the break and extended their lead through Darren Chadwick’s head
but a Lee Williamson penalty brought the hosts back into the contest and it was a mightily relieved
Moorlands contingent when the final whistle was blown.

Leek started the game well and were able to take advantage of this early pressure to open the
scoring. Grove’s debutant defender Spencer Gunnell gave the ball away to Tim Grice. Although the
Blues’ number nine struggled to control the ball Billy Reeves was able to recycle and fed Short whose
left-footer from thirty yards cracked against Kieran Harrison’s right-hand post and into the net.

Kidsgrove gradually recovered and their patient build-up – orchestrated by Williamson – eventually
paid dividends. The ball was played wide to Kieran Coates – making an impressive first appearance
while on loan from Stoke City – and he got to the by-line before firing in a cross that was headed
powerfully home by Malbon.

Crucially, the home side were unable to remain level until half-time. A defensive lapse by Gunnell
allowed Rob Stevenson to nick the ball and play in a low cross that was forced home by Grocott.

Tactical tweaks by the Leek management during the interval meant that the Blues regained control
of the midfield battle and their opponents were pushed on to the back foot. So, it was little surprise
that the visitors were able to open a two-goal gap.

Harrison pulled off a superb save to beat away a fierce drive from Stevenson but that only delayed
the inevitable. Louis Keenan delivered an excellent corner that was met by Chadwick whose
trademark header went into the far corner.

At this stage Leek were well on top but there was to be one more twist in the tale. Josh Agbozo was
unable to prevent a cheaply given away corner which the visiting defence struggled to clear. The
loose ball was picked up by Kingsley Adu-Gyamfi who burst into the area. The Athletic forward went
down under pressure from Agbozo and Chadwick and a penalty was immediately awarded. The spot-
kick was dispatched in imperious fashion by Williamson.

Stevenson had a great chance to restore the two-goal advantage when Harrison suffered one of his
frequent rushes of blood. The home keeper rushed to the touchline in an attempt to clear a through
ball but was beaten to the ball. Blushes were spared when James Butler – whose performance once
again suggested that he could easily play at a higher level – cleared from the line.

Adu-Gyamfi blazed over the bar and Danny Roberts had to be at his best to deny Malbon – an effort
eventually ruled out for offside – as Kidsgrove mounted a grandstand finish but Leek had done
enough to take the spoils.

Following the game Leek Manager Neil Baker spoke exclusively to Moorlands Sport saying “That was
an excellent game and we are just so pleased to come out of this with three points. I thought after
the initial fifteen minutes when we started so well Grove got used to their new system and got on
top. There were no harsh words at half-time. We just changed things a few things tactically. We tried
to press their centre halves and Lee Williamson more.

My players are saying that Adu-Gyamfi took an easy tumble. He ran into the players but I was
annoyed because Josh Agbozo has a tendency to stick a foot out. I’ve told them not to do that. You
don’t tackle in the box. You make a block in the box. I was annoyed that we gave Kidsgrove a lifeline
which they took.”

Dave Stringer
Dave Stringer
Sports Reporter and Theatre Critic

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