Leiston too hot for Halesowen as Drivers’ side hit four
Leiston 4 Halesowen 0
After two successive home defeats in the FA Cup and the League, Leiston redeemed themselves with a classy performance that sent Halesowen back to the West Midlands a well beaten side.
The win also saw Glenn Driver’s team move smoothly into the play-off positions, in fourth place.
In front of more than 300 fans, quite frankly the scoreline could have been much worse for the visitors had it not been for goalkeeper Cameron Gregory who excelled throughout, including making three outstanding saves during stoppage time as Leiston pressed home their considerable advantage.
There were many fine individual performances from the home side that collectively produced an excellent team display, probably the best of the season, thus far, and none more so than that of man-of-the-match Noel Aitkens.
Following the recent departure of Chris Henderson to King’s Lynn, Aitkens’ inclusion to the starting line-up provided a well balanced midfield alongside Byron Lawrence.
The visitors made the worse possible start and were shocked when Jake Reed drove home after just 14 seconds.
Matt Blake then had a great chance to add a second following Seb Dunbar’s cross and Reed played in Blake who fired, but Gregory reduced the angle to block.
Kyle Hammond went close having progressed down the right before testing Gregory at his near-post and then Reed drove over.
The visitors were restricted to distant shots, and Marcus Garnham was only troubled once producing a smart save to deny ex-West Bromwich Albion striker Lee Hughes.
On 42 minutes Leiston went further ahead when Lawrence turned inside his defender before drilling home a terrific low drive from 22 yards that gave Gregory no chance.
After the break Halesowen, who before kick-off were a point behind Leiston in the table, were struggling to make any offensive progress against a commanding defence.
Patrick Brothers went close, floating a ball narrowly beyond the far post, and Aitkens struck a powerful shot that was deflected for a corner.
The silky skills of Aitkens then produced a measured cross to Blake whose header was well saved by Gregory and then the keeper made a double save denying Reed and Aitkens.
It became 3-0 when Reed was brought down and Blake scored from the spot and minutes later Christie Finch completed the scoring with another penalty after Dominic Docherty was impeded by Gregory.
Referee Mr Paul Burnham (Wymondham)