Leiston into the Bostik Premier play-offs despite Hendon defeat
PUBLISHED: 10:43 29 April 2018 | UPDATED: 10:43 29 April 2018
Leiston 1 Hendon 2
Glenn Driver’s side reached the Bostik Premier League play offs having secured fifth place albeit losing to Hendon, who finished in third position to confirm their own play off place, writes John Campany
Leiston can feel proud of their achievement following a long and arduous campaign where they amassed 79 points to beat sixth-placed Leatherhead on goal difference.
They now have the task of overcoming league runners-up Dulwich Hamlet at Tooting & Mitcham’s ground on Thursday evening for a place in the play-off final – against Folkestone or Hendon.
The match attracted a big crowd of 617 at Victory Road, but Hendon, who deserved their win, denied Driver’s side a point as the home team lost only there second game in the last 15.
The visitors made a lively start with Samuel Murphy crossing to ex-Leiston man Niko Muir who went close and then skipper Casey MacLaren’s header was comfortably saved by Marcus Garnham. The keeper was again tested, low down by Joshua Walker, with the home defence looking vulnerable against the pace and intricate play of the North London side.
Leiston had chances, but Jake Reed fired well wide from a good position, and Matt Blake running beyond the last defender had his effort blocked by keeper Tom Lovelock.
The nearest the home side came was when Christy Finch finished a promising move by dispatching a powerful shot just over.
The visitors were largely in control playing attacking football and Garnham produced a decent save from Walker’s fierce shot to ensure half-time parity.
Hendon produced two early efforts, but the best chance fell to Leiston when Blake set up Finch who wasted a great chance in front of goal slicing his shot well wide from close in.
The game gained momentum with two goals in a minute.
Firstly, in the 62nd Ashley Nathaniel-George put Hendon in front with a spectacular shot high into the roof of the net and this was followed when the same player created the chance for Daniel Uchechi who sent a terrific effort beyond Garnham.
Leiston’s fortunes changed upon the introduction of substitutes Dominic Docherty and Joe Marsden that saw the home side take control. Indeed in the 70th minute Marsden pulled a goal back with a 25-yard shot cum cross that beat Lovelock and went in off the far post.
The visitors were under siege for the remaining minutes, but despite the Suffolk side being unable to conjure up an equaliser, they had achieved their goal, securing Thursday’s play off match in South London.
Referee – Carl Pearce (Colchester).