LEEK TOWN XI 3
UTTOXETER TOWN 3
(Leek won 3-2 on pens)
UTTOXETER Town were knocked out of the Staffs Senior League Challenge Cup on Saturday in an end-to-end cup tie at Ball Haye Green.
For the neutral the match would have been a thriller, but it was more of a nightmare for Town’s manager Mark Grimley and coach Andy O’Connor as their side again showed their Jekyll and Hyde character.
Grimley had a near full strength squad to choose from with Liam Sowter and Glyn Douglas the only absentee.
Mark Thompson and Paddy Farrelly were brought in to the starting line-up, while Tommy Smith and Lee Bagley returned in attack at the expense of Jon Lamburn and Ryan Metcalfe.
On a wet and deteriorating surface, Town were sharper and brighter than their counterparts from the first whistle and arguably their finest performance of the season ensued in the first 40 minutes.
Town deservedly got themselves in front on 24 minutes with a special goal from Smith. Jason Beardsley drove forward from right back and, after cutting inside on to his left foot, delivered beautifully to the penalty spot where Smith unleashed an exquisite scissor kick into the roof of the net.
The second goal was not long in coming when Rob Collins’ cross was headed home by Jack Holley at the far post to give the visitors some breathing space.
Had Smith’s half volley been inchescloser on 38 minutes then the tie would have been sewn up but Leek grabbed themselves a lifeline with seconds of the half remaining.
A routine move down the hosts right-hand side gave striker Ryan Griffin chance to drive into the box and and he was able to steer the ball past Alex Langridge with the help of a deflection.
Town then proceeded to produce their worst 45 minutes of the season.
Leek pressed and probed and forced Town into trying different formations to cope with the onslaught but it was only a matter of time before the hosts drew level.
Despite calls for an infringement on the Uttoxeter defenders, Leek striker Seymour was able to nick the ball past Langridge before being unceremoniously knocked to the floor by the visiting keeper.
There was no hesitation by the referee in pointing to the spot, with the only decision remaining whether the presence of covering defenders was enough to save the Town stopper from seeing red.
Fortunately for Uttoxeter it was a yellow for Langridge who had no chance with the spot-kick, Griffin smashing home his second of the game.
Shell-shocked Town looked like a beaten side but they managed to force a couple of chances of their own as the final whistle neared, Jack Holley seeing his two efforts fly just over the bar.
A superb finish by Griffin 13 minutes into the additional period gave Leek the advantage but Town doggedly fought back in the last 15 minutes.
Kyle Esplin went close before finally beating the home stopper with minutes left on the clock.
Town had a chance to win it at the death but Bagley was denied by a point-blank save.
Smith and Richards both saw their penalties crash against the bar before Langridge and Holley gave Town a lifeline.
Langridge also pulled off two fine saves before Bagley’s effort was saved.
Town host Congleton in the second round of the Leek Cup on Saturday, kick-off 2pm.
TOWN: Langridge, Beardsley, Ede (Richards 72), Farrelly (Jenkins 76), Thompson, Holley, Gadsby, Esplin, Smith, Bagley, Collins (Caswell 81).
Subs not used; Ward, Lamburn, Harvey, Metcalfe.
INFINITY IT MAN OF THE MATCH: Paddy Farrelly — assured in defence