Character and spirit in droves at Leiston, says manager Glenn Driver, ahead of Bromley FA Trophy clash

Jacob Marsden celebrates after making a save in the penalty shoot out at the end of the Eastbourne Borough v Leiston (FA Trophy 3rd Qualifying Round Replay) at Priory Lane, Eastbourne on 6th December 2016. 
Picture: Steve Waller  www.stephenwaller.com

Jacob Marsden celebrates after making a save in the penalty shoot out at the end of the Eastbourne Borough v Leiston (FA Trophy 3rd Qualifying Round Replay) at Priory Lane, Eastbourne on 6th December 2016. Picture: Steve Waller www.stephenwaller.com

© Copyright Stephen Waller

Leiston manager Glenn Driver hailed his team’s character and spirit after the Blues sealed a memorable penalty shoot-out victory at National League South side, Eastbourne Borough, in their FA Trophy Third Qualifying Round replay on Tuesday night.

After finishing 2-2 after extra-time, Ollie Brown stuck away the decisive penalty to set up a trip to National League side, Bromley, on Saturday.

Brown was coolness personified as he beat Charlie Horlock from 12 yards to ensure Leiston went through 5-3, Jack Ainsley, Patrick Brothers, Matt Blake and Joe Francis also converting from 12 yards.

Stepping up to take a spot-kick took guts, and the kind of character shown by the entire Blues squad over the two games – the first match ended 1-1 at Victory Road.

Goalkeeping hero Jacob Marsden, for instance, has endured a tricky time between the sticks in recent games, while Gareth Heath, whose 119th-minute equaliser took the game to penalties, had earlier missed an incredible open goal, in the 89th minute, to put Leiston through in normal time.

“The game should not have gone to a replay if I am being honest,” said Driver.

“Their goalkeeper was probably man-of-the-match at our place, so to come here and win in the fashion we did was fantastic.

“It didn’t need to go to penalties but we showed character and Gareth (Heath) kept going after his miss. For him to get the equaliser so late in extra-time was pleasing.

“He showed more composure then than he did with his chance in the last minute of normal time.

“But he is a player that carries the team single-handedly at times and I was pleased that he got to redeem himself, although we all backed him.

“We are a team, not a group of individuals and all the boys got round him at full-time and told him to go again.

“I knew we could get something and I felt we deserved to.”

At the other end of the pitch, on-loan Ipswich Town youngster Marsden did his bit, saving the hosts’ fourth kick, taken by Tom Murphy, much to Driver’s delight.

The Leiston boss, who signed young Woodbridge Town goalkeeper Harry Lay Fulcher (18) this week, said: “Jacob has been a bit down in recent weeks and feels he has made one or two mistakes that have cost us.

“But he is young, he is only 20, and he has lost 18 months of his education at Ipswich due to injury.

“We know he will make mistakes, but it was a great penalty save and the right time to make it, given that if we scored the next one we would go through.”

The Blues boss played a 3-5-2 formation on Tuesday, as opposed to his usual 4-4-2 preference, with Jack Ainsley excelling in the middle of a back three – Joe Jefford and Jake Hutchings either side of him.

“I do like that system although had Tom Bullard been fit, we would probably not have played it,” admitted Driver.

“Eastbourne held everyone behind the ball and we got (wing-backs) Seb Dunbar and Ollie Brown higher up the pitch, while the back three tried to play the ball out of defence.

“(Jack) Ainsley travelled into midfield at times and Patrick (Brothers), Byron (Lawrence) and Gareth (Heath) were always an outlet for him.

“I think we as a management team have to take a bit of credit as I think we got it spot on.”

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