Town Exit League Challenge Trophy
By Andrew Parker
The Town welcomed Potton United to Bell Close on Tuesday Evening, in an eagerly anticipated, League Challenge Trophy Quarter Final tie.
The pitch at Bell Close passed an inspection during the afternoon and was deemed playable, despite the rain coming down up until half time.
Leighton made 1 change to the team that lined up against Colney Heath, with Brian Foulger coming in for Tom Bryant.
The game got underway in wet and windy conditions and neither team dominated proceedings.
Neither team were able to keep the ball and a physical encounter continued to play out.
Charlie Jones was called into action early in the first half, but made a comfortable save from an Aaron Murrell strike.
Tom Silford hit the bar for the Town deep into the first period with a looping header, but that was the Reds only real chance of the first half.
The teams would go in level at Half Time. Level and very, very wet.
The second half got underway and as the rain died out, the action unfolded.
Just a few minutes in and Ben Gallant was replaced by the lively Kyle Faulkner.
10 minutes into the second period and Potton took the lead.
A superb pass by Gareth Hunt picked out Danny Webb and he finished with aplomb, to put United in front.
However, the Town’s spirits were not dampened and just 3 minutes later, they levelled.
Kyle Faulkner’s strike was saved well by Tyler Josephs in the Potton goal, but there was Matt Hall who followed up with a smart finish from a tight angle, which sparked fantastic scenes down at the Shed End.
The Town had fought their way back into the game and it looked likely they were going to go on and get a second.
Kyle Faulkner hit a strike from distance that took a wicked deflection, but goalkeeper Josephs made a superb save to just tip the ball over the bar at the last minute. A sensational save from the young Potton goalkeeper.
But against the run of play, Potton went in front for the second time.
After some defensive miscommunication, Gary Ansell-Carter (who arguably should’ve been sent off in the first half for an extremely late challenge on Charlie Jones), chipped the ball over a barrage of bodies and into the empty Town net.
The Town had around 30 minutes left on the clock to try and keep themselves in the cup.
The Reds won multiple corners, had efforts blocked, but just couldn’t seem to turn the ball into Potton’s net.
George Armstrong came on for Brian Foulger.
With the game almost in injury time, the Town struck the woodwork for a second time.
Aaron McKee got in front of his man well and flicked the ball towards the Potton goal, but he saw his effort strike the post.
The game was dying out and with only seconds left on the clock, Kyle Faulkner blasted over from just inside the area. That would be the Town’s final chance to take the game to penalties.
The Town crash out of the League Challenge Trophy at the Quarter Final stage, having had a great run, beating Hatfield, Hillingdon Borough and Tring Athletic on their way.
Congratulations to Potton and all the best in the Semi-Final.
A disappointing evening for the Reds, with missed chances costing them a place in the Semi, however, the team spirit was there for all to see. Cliché, but on another day it could’ve been the Town’s night.
Next up for Leighton is a trip to Crawley Green on Saturday, in the League.
We hope to see you there on Saturday and once again, thank you for your terrific support.
Match report by Kieran Carvell