Leek CSOB 2 Daisy Hill 1

Saturday 18th February 2012
Leek CSOB 2 Daisy Hill 1
North-West Counties League Division 1
At: Harrison Park
Kick-off: 3-00 pm
Admission: £4; Programme: none
Weather: sunny spells, cold wind, brief shower
Attendance: 22
Duration: first-half: 46:04; second-half: 46:55

Leek CSOB provided a bright spot for me on a sombre day as they produced a battling second-half performance in coming from behind to defeat Daisy Hill. After bailing out at Longton Harriers, when it was clear their home game was not going to happen, I headed instead to Leek Town’s familiar Harrison Park to see my first-ever Old Boys home game. Trailing to Daisy Hill at the interval, the Old Boys responded in true battling fashion as they turned things completely around by the hour mark with goals from Rich Morton and Karl Miller. They then creditably held on for a richly-deserved morale-boosting victory to aid their fight to move off the bottom of the table.

After hearing that Bob Gee, a long-time Stafford Rangers fan and a lovely man to chat with, had sadly passed away during the night, I made my way up the A520 through Meir to Longton Harriers (pictured right). When I arrived at their Leek Road ground, a group of players were warming up, which I took as a positive sign the Staffs County Senior League Division 1 game with Ashbourne Town was on. By 2pm, it was clear something was wrong as neither opposition or match officials had arrived and the bottom goalmouth was completely waterlogged as well. A quick phone call home confirmed that CSOB’s home game with Daisy Hill was, thankfully, not marked ‘P-P’ on the NWCL website, so I made a hasty exit for Harrison Park.

The current 2011/12 season has been a difficult one for Leek CSOB (which stands for ‘County School Old Boys’) with news that several stalwarts leaving at the end of season and a seven-point deduction which sent them to the foot of the Division 1 table. Saying that, I know there are people working hard behind the scenes to keep the club going.

Goining into today’s fixture, Leek (10 points from 19 games with the aforementioned deduction) hadn’t played a league game for four weeks since they lost 4-0 at home to Wigan Robin Park. Their last league win came two months ago at Formby and their solitary home league win back in August. Visitors Daisy Hill (27 points from 22 games) stood around midtable in 9th position. The Old Boys gained one of their fourth league wins with a 2-0 victory at Daisy Hill back on Saturday 13th August.

Looking specifically at the Old Boys line-up, it included one familiar name in player-manager Brett Barlow, who made his debut for Stafford Rangers under Ian Painter some 14 years ago in 1997. He made 27 appearances for the Boro, scoring two goals.

Daisy Hill (wearing all blue) got the game underway defending the Macclesfield Road end in the first half and immediately won a corner.

The first chance fell to Leek after four minutes. Darren Gavin fouled Oliver Mellor 28 yards out and Karl Miller sent the free-kick over the bar. From another Miller free-kick, the ball rebounded off the wall and James Heath fired the rebound wide.

Daisy Hill got more into the game, after being guilty of “giving away the ball too cheaply”, and started to create chances. Craig Xuerbeb drove not too far wide from fully 30 yards out and just after the half-hour mark, Sam Parkinson saw a well-struck shot hit the left hand post and fly across the face of goal.

It was no surprise when the visitors took the lead in the 35th minute. Parkinson was fouled on the edge of the area by Heath and Ryan Chaisty expertly curled a right-foot free-kick into the far right-hand side of the net.

As I walked around the ground toward the Macclesfield Road end, I spotted a familiar face in Malc Hampton armed with his camera, It’s always good to catch up with Malc whenever I’m in North Staffordshire and today was no exception. He left at half-time, with photos taken, and I followed the crowd into a hospitably room underneath the stand for a much-needed tea! Alas the announced winning raffle ticket wasn’t mine.

A deflected shot from Heath signalled the start of Leek’s comeback and they got back on the level terms in the 49th minute. Mark Fox swung in the corner from the left and Rich Morton forced the ball over the line from just a few yards out.

On a heavy pitch that survived a morning inspection, Daisy Hill still posed a threat and Daniel Gregory fired against the near left-hand post.

Having survived that scare, Leek took the lead on the hour mark with the goal that proved to be the winner. A poor defensive clearance gifted a chance to unmarked leading scorer Miller who fired home from 12 yards out.

With just a slender one-goal lead, Leek defended in depth and restricted the visitors to a couple of long-range shot and another low effort which ended well side of the target.

Seconds were ticking way, perhaps slowly for the home side, and a looping shot Morton in the 90th minute cleared the stand behind the goal, to use up a few more seconds.

With resilient and determined defending keeping the Old Boys in front, Daisy Hill had one last chance in stoppage time. Once again, solid defending prevented any scoring opportunity coming from Callum Livingstone’s free-kick delivered into the packed home area.

A loud collective ‘Yeh!’ from the Leek players greeted the final whistle to celebrate a first home league win since early September – one that was richly deserved this afternoon.

I can’t finish without a word about Bob Gee who was always a pleasure to chat with whether it be in Market Square, Marston Road or elsewhere. RIP Bob.

Leek CSOB (red and white stripes / red / red and white hoops): 25. Ashley Knight, 2. James Heath (capt), 3. Russell Gibbons, 4. Samuel Pettitt, 5. Brett Barlow, 6. Rich Morton, 7. Mark Fox, 8. Oliver Mellor, 9. Joel Dawson (Grocott, 88), 10. Karl Miller, 11. Tim Barrass. Subs: 12. Adam Grocott (for Dawson, 88), 14. James McMullen (not used), 15. Zak Parker (not used), 16. Daniel Hyde (not used).

Daisy Hill (blue/blue/blue): 1. Adam Thomas, 2. Kyle Hynes, 3. Darren Gavin, 4. Marc Shemwell, 5. Paul Monks, 6. Craig Xuereb, 7. Alex Leigh, 8. Ryan Chaisty, 9. Daniel Gregory, 10. Sam Parkinson, 11. Sam Howell. Subs: 12. Callum Livingstone (for Gavin, 66), 14. Daniel Reid (for Leigh, 71).

Referee: R. Goodwin-Davey.
Assistants: J. Wilde and G. Walsh.

0-1 Ryan Chaisty (35)
1-1 Rich Morton (49)
1-2 Karl Miller (60)

Leek: Tim Barrass (YC, 44), Rich Morton (YC, 77)
Daisy Hill: Kyle Hynes (YC, 48), Ryan Chaisty (YC, 86)

I assume Longton’s game didn’t take place though the league’s website has a blank in the place where all the other games wither had a scoreline or P-P.