Leek’s long unbeaten run at Harrison Park is at an end. The Blues last tasted defeat on their home turf more than two years ago but their colours were lowered by a double from Joe Woolley.
Despite a lot of huffing and puffing from the home side, Leek failed to manage a single meaningful shot on target and were reliant on an own goal by visiting keeper Tony Aghayere to get on the score sheet.
In truth this was not a great spectacle of football with neither keeper being forced to earn their corn. Danny Roberts did well to turn away a stinging strike from Callum Gardner late in the game but could do little to prevent the goals.
The Leek tender was left hopelessly exposed by his defenders who failed to provide cover when Woolley was played in by his brother Matt shortly before the break. The 1874 player was able to stride easily between defensive partners Ollie Harrison and Scott Wara and pick his spot to score.
There was also unusually poor defensive work for the visitors’ second. A relatively cheap corner was conceded and the home defenders failed to close down their opponents. Woolley let fly with an angled shot – the type of effort that often sails harmlessly off-target. This time the strike was perfect and the ball nestled in the far top corner.
The second goal restored 1874’s lead after Leek had equalised eight minutes into the second half. Agheyere will be disappointed that he conceded the goal in what was his only serious action of the ninety minutes. Failing to take command at a dangerous set piece, he could only turn the ball over his own line.
In games past, Leek have taken advantage of strokes of fortune but, faced with a determined opponent, they were never able to create an opening until the closing seconds when a Louis Keenan header flashed wide.
Unbeaten runs have to end sometime but it was disappointing that Leek went down with barely a whimper. However, take no credit away from Northwich. They played to their strengths and transitioned well from defence to counter-attack and, to the neutral in the crowd, their win was thoroughly deserved.
Following the match, Leek Assistant Manager Pete Ward spoke exclusively to Moorlands Radio and said “I just didn’t think we got going. I think we were flat all the way through the team. We huffed and puffed all through the game. We got back in the game and then conceded a stupid goal. We didn’t close the corner down and were punished for it.
I had Joe Woolley at Kidsgrove. He was out with an ACL for about 18 months. He took the first goal really well. But I don’t think we defended it well. We were too far apart. For the second goal we switched off. You can’t afford to fall asleep. The shot went in and we conceded two goals with poor defending.
The management team are having a zoom meeting to see what we can do with the transfer deadline coming this Thursday. We will get someone in if we can. We’re always looking at bringing players in but they have to be the right type of player.
We have seven, eight or nine players not performing to par. That is unlike us. But we will be working on that this week.”