Town Finish On A High
By Andrew Parker
London Tigers 0 - Leighton Town 7
After one of the performances of the season last week at home to Berkhamstead, Town outdid themselves this week with a 7-0 thrashing of London Tigers to end the season on a high and surpass the 45 point target set by gaffer Scott Reynolds.
The Reds started well with 2 early chances, good work between Dom Marsala and Lewis McBride set McBride in on goal his shot was blocked for a corner. Lorrel Smith then outpaced the Tigers defence soon after and as he tried to round the keeper, Kledis Ramas did very well to claim it.
Despite already being relegated, Tigers looked threatening offensively and could’ve taken the lead through skipper Naim Berisha who hit the bar from around 25 yards with a thunderbolt of a strike after being given time and space to shoot, the rebound came off the bar but Brad Kirkwood was alert enough to claim the second strike.
Tigers then had a another chance through Berisha but after a neat bit of trickery his tame effort was easily saved by Kirkwood before Leighton went 1-0 up in the 14th minute. Marsala did well to win Town a free-kick just outside the D, James Towell hit a sweet strike that Ramas could only parry to Louis Norton who was there to tap home.
Leighton should’ve really gone 2-0 up soon after McBride played a ball across goal for Marsala who couldn’t get there quick enough for a tap-in. London Tigers couldn’t control McBride on the far side and it was he who was the provider for Leighton’s second on the 26th minute.
He played another good ball into the box and Smith was there to poke it home to make it 2-0. Like last week Leighton looked confident and assured as they looked to assert their dominance on the game.
Some great football was being played and as Alex Condon tried an acrobatic effort following a Red corner his shot was blocked.
London Tigers came out of the traps quickly in the second half and Daniel Trif was unlucky as his free header just glanced over. The Tigers weren’t afraid to shoot from distance and after shot after shot came in Kirkwood did well to keep the danger away from the Leighton net.
Some say the best form of defence is attack and that’s exactly what Leighton did by getting a third goal and it was Smith who got his second of the game, once again it was a great gutbusting run from the pacey forward after good work from Luke Marsh, Smith outran the defence and this time rounded Ramas to coolly slot it home with an assured finish.
After an audacious half-volley from Craig Maisiri from the half way area that wasn’t far wide, Leighton really began to run riot at Bell Close. Smith got his hattrick on the 67th minute and it was certainly deserved. He found himself in on goal again and it was another cool finish after he rounded the defence yet again.
Smith nearly had a second chance straight after and was unlucky not to get a shot away but just 2 minutes after his hattrick Leighton got a 5th goal. This time it was the provider McBride who got a goal after a inviting cross was thumped home on the volley.
This quick flurry of goals did not stop there as Marsala got a 6th just a minute later. Yet again Leighton were running rampant on the wings, McBride made another cross for Marsala who turned the Tigers CB and on the turn hit a sweet strike into the left-hand side of the goal.
Despite the fact that they were now 6-0 up they didn’t let up on a shell-shocked Tigers defence Maisiri being mightily unlucky not to make it 7-0. Ramas was caught in no mans land Maisiri struck a neat right footed shot from the penalty spot but it was cleared off the line.
The post came to Leighton’s rescue in the first and it came to Tigers in the second. Smith looking for a fourth goal was in space in the box McBride found him with yet another cross but he was leaning as he hit his shot and it came off the post.
Leighton felt they should’ve had a penalty as Marsala looked to have been fouled in the box but the referee who had an assured game turned it down. It looked only a matter of time before Leighton got a 7th goal and McBride could’ve had a second as a nothing ball found him in the box he hit it first time on the volley and it just flashed past the post.
On the 90th minute Leighton did get a penalty and did get a 7th through McKee. Marsala was fouled in the box and McKee stepped up to take it. McKee was put on penalty duties after once saying he had never missed a pen in competitive football, fortunately for him Town haven’t had many pens this season but he calmly put this one home into the bottom left corner to back his claims and put the cherry on top of a phenomenal Leighton performance at Bell Close.
It was Leighton’s biggest victory this season and was a rather fitting way to end the season on 47 points and 16th place. Like last week, every player in a Town shirt did their bit and put in a great shift to produce another stunning performance. I would like to put my thanks on record to Scott Reynolds and the rest of the staff and players for turning the season round when a second successive relegation looked like it was going to happen.
The turn-around in the second half of the season has been thrilling to report on and some great football has been played at times. Long may it continue as we move towards next season in The Spartan South Midlands Premier Division.