Blues draw another blank as they lose out to Linnets
Runcorn Linnets Leek Town
............. ....................... LEAGUE leaders Runcorn Linnets just about edged out Blues 1-0 at the Milbank Linnets Stadium on Saturday.
A disappointing week for Leek continued as they failed to score for the third consecutive match after being knocked out of the FA Trophy by Stamford on Tuesday night
Despite that, Neil Baker opted for an unchanged side, but once again Blues struggled to create much to threaten the opposition goal.
The Linnets had a chance in the opening moments when Danny Roberts had to come out and make an important block.
However, Jordan Johnson replied on eight minutes when he rifled in a 20-yarder but it was comfortably held by Dylan Forth.
The only goal of the game came in the 12th minute when Runcorn worked the ball through the Blues’ defence and Kristian Holt fired home with a low shot into the corner of the net.
There was little in the way of action at either end for the remainder of the half and despite a good crowd of 375 watching, the atmosphere was subdued.
Town’s best move of the half came three minutes before the break when Rob Stevenson produced a good cross from the left which was nodded on by Johnson and met by Aaron Bott on the volley, but he was unable to keep the difficult chance down and the ball cleared the crossbar.
The second half continued in a similar vein but as the match wore on Stevenson was becoming more of a handful for the Linnets defence.
Despite this, Blues failed to get an effort on target, with substitute Tim Grice coming closest with a header just over from a Stevenson cross.
Leek lost Scott Lycett to a hamstring injury in the second half with Jesse Bavanganga replacing him at the back, but Roberts was well-protected with little to do himself either.
Overall, not an awful to choose between the teams in a game that was a poor advert for the division, but Baker will be concerned at the lack of creativity from his side over the last week.
Team: Roberts; Green; Short (Walford 60); Grocott; Lycett; (Bavanganga 53) Chadwick; Reeves; Hall; Johnson; Bott
(Grice 75 ) Stevenson; Unused subs: ; Maguire; Chapman.
Yellow: Marc Grocott
■ A FEW days earlier, Stamford knocked Blues out of the Buildbase FA Trophy with a 1-0 victory at Harrison Park in this First Qualifying Round replay.
Neil Baker made one change to the side that started the first clash 0-0 on Saturday with Marc Grocott returning from suspension in place of Charlie Walford.
The first half was an extension of the first match with no goals and little incident of note.
Blues did have the ball in the net on 14th minutes, but Jordan Johnson was ruled offside in what looked a marginal decision.
Things immediately livened up in the opening minute of the second half when a Stamford effort took a deflection and thudded into the post with Danny Roberts rooted to the spot.
Six minutes later the Daniels were in front following a break down the left and a low cross converted from close range by Liam Adams.
Blues were thrown a lifeline on 61 minutes when Stamford’s Kern Miller was shown a straight red for a crude challenge on Johnson.
As the 10-man visitors defended deep so Leek upped the pressure but to no avail.
Scott Lycett saw a header from a corner brilliantly tipped onto the bar by Danny Haystead in the 77th minute.
Three minutes later Haystead was fortunate when he spilled Bott’s low fee-kick and Darren Chadwick’s follow-up from three yards out hit the post.
Four minutes from time Walford’s deep cross almost deceived the back-pedalling goalkeeper who clawed the ball out at the far post.
Grocott had a late effort deflected over for a corner and there were a couple of goalmouth scrambles, but Stamford held out in determined fashion for a hard-fought win and a home tie against their local rivals Kettering Town.
1 0 Leek Town’s Rob Stevenson, centre, looks on as striker Aaron Bott challenges for the ball during Saturday’s match against Runcorn Linnets in the Evo-stik League. Picture and reports: Steve Reynolds