Town Pickup 3 Points Against Berkhamsted
By Andrew Parker
Leighton 3 - Berkhamsted 0
On paper today’s game looked straightforward: unbeaten just once in 16 matches, playing Leighton off the park 3-0 in the reverse fixture at the Broadwater Stadium in the process, the stats pointed to a Berkhamsted win. Fortunately the game is still played on grass not paper, and after a thrilling draw in midweek and players returning to the side Leighton produced one of the performances of the season to stun the form side 3-0 at Bell Close on a sunny Saturday afternoon.
The early signs from the hosts were promising as Aaron McKee had a shot just outside the box flash past the post. This was a sign of things to come in the early stages of the game as Alex Condon played a great ball to Lewis McBride who fizzled a low shot that Carl Tasker had to be equal to.
Lorrell Smith then forced another good save out of Tasker with a neat effort to win Leighton a corner. Skipper Dom Marsala played it in and Lolu Onabolu got his header not far over the mark as Leighton were applying the pressure on the Berkhamsted defence.
Brad Kirkwood had to be alert as Alex Campana kept him honest with a good strike but it was Leighton who were on top at this point as another Marsala corner produced another Onabolu header and this one was much closer to the target.
Berkhamsted were also looking good from set pieces as they themselves had a header glance just over the bar, but it was Leighton who took the lead in the 18th minute through that man again Onabolu. It started from a free-kick near the halfway line Hately Mercer floated a lovely ball for Onabolu to run onto and as he and Tasker both ran for it Onabolu got there first and dinked Tasker with a lovely touch and it was no more than Town deserved.
Leighton sensed blood now and Onabolu very nearly found himself in on goal but Berko cleared their lines well. The confidence was back for Town who were making some lovely passes and playing with no fear and Smith made a gut-busting run to get a loose ball and did very well to even get a shot away that Tasker saved.
Berko hadn’t created a lot so far but Ashley Lewis hit the post with his cross and then was unlucky not to score as he hit a lovely shot just over the bar as he bounded down upon goal.
The second half started and straight away Leighton were out of the traps and got a second goal from the off with Onabolu getting his second of the game with another assured finish. A lovely through ball was played into him and thumped a low drive past Tasker.
Berkhamsted looked shellshocked and Leighton got a third goal soon after through McBride. The ball went to the far side and McBride looked like he was going to cross it but it snuck in the net. There was doubt as to whether Lorrell Smith got the final touch and the goal but it looked like it may have already crossed the line at this point.
That aside it was thoroughly deserved and Leighton did not let up, Onabolu played an incisive cross to Smith who was nearly in to perhaps get a fourth his touch just lacking.
Berko hit the post again through Sam Bateman with a cracking effort as Leighton’s intensity dropped slightly but the game management certainly made up for this with Leighton keeping their shape more often than not.
It was about defensive duties now as Town started to see the game out and did so with aplomb doing enough with the pressing and man-marking to keep Berkhamsted from creating as they went for a last push to get back into the game.
They couldn’t do so and Leighton got the 3-0 win their performance so thoroughly deserved. Everyone to a man did their job to ensure that Town got 3 points and there were no bad performances from anyone in a red shirt today. Defence and attack both were in harmony and edge up to 15th with today’s result.
If Leighton can continue to pull out these sort of performances week in and week out with a strong side things look very promising as they end this season and move on to the next. One more game left before that though, London Tigers at Bell Close next Saturday for the rearranged fixture.
TEAM: Kirkwood, Towell, Norton, McKee, Condon, Mercer, Marsala, Marsh, Smith, Onabolu, McBride SUBS: Oye for McKee, Slatter for Norton, Bagatti for Marsala UNUSED: Maisiri, Sheridan