Late Goal Denies Town a Point
By Andrew Parker
The Town were back on the road as they travelled to Arlesey to take on a side 3rd in the table, with only 1 defeat to their name so far in this campaign.
Arlesey, had 4 ex-Leighton Town players from last season in their starting lineup.
Former Captain Tom Guiney (now Arlesey Skipper), James Hatch, Lorrell Smith and Ash Fuller.
The Town, named 2 debutants in their lineup, with Matt Brady coming in at centre back and Kynan Issac starting up front.
In a slightly unorthodox change to the lineup, Junior Muya would start on the right hand side of midfield.
The Town started very brightly, far better than last weekend, with an early opportunity for Dave Murphy who headed over the bar from a corner.
Alex O’Brien would then also get an early chance, an absolute gift it was too. Phil Payne was caught out on the edge of the area and O’Brien had a great chance, but the shot was tame and Robbie Ponting in between the Arlesey net, saved comfortably.
Lewis McBride, who was absolutely exceptional throughout, hit a strike from distance but it didn’t trouble Ponting.
Then, midway through the first period, Arlesey took the lead.
Makuza got the better of debutant Brady, and fired a ball across the box. Smith couldn’t connect to score against his former club, but Aaron Browne arrived at the far post to strike into the near corner, to give Arlesey a goal advantage.
The Town would feel hard done by with that, as they were playing some good football, with Hall and McBride linking up nicely and O’Brien bossing some of the midfield play.
Lorrell Smith then made his way into the referee’s book, for a 2nd foul on Tom Wyant.
Kynan Issac looked really sharp on his debut and he was nearly rewarded with his hard work, but his shot flew past the near post.
Issac would soon get another chance. The Striker found space in the box and hit a good drive that was well saved by Ponting, and Muya couldn’t get a clean shot away from the rebound and Ponting smothered it out for a corner.
Shortly after, O’Brien and Makuza made their ways into the book for a little scuffle off the ball.
At Half Time, Skipper Dave Murphy was replaced by Aaron McKee and Jamie Nicholls dropped into Centre Back, who would don the armband.
Tom Wyant was called into action straight away in the second half, with 2 good saves, the first from Browne, the second from a ferocious Fuller free kick.
Jamie Nicholls was then replaced by Leighton’s 3rd debutant of the day, Anthony Mawema coming on. Alex O’Brien would wear the armband for the rest of the encounter. Junior Muya returned to Centre Back, much to the disappointment of the travelling Leighton Fans, behind Ponting’s goal.
Aaron Browne was the fourth name to go into the referee’s notebook for a late tackle and he was immediately replaced by Carl Chambers, Arlesey’s only change.
Robbie Ponting was back in the thick of things for Arlesey as he made a terrific save to deny a curling O’Brien strike that seemed destined for the top corner.
But, from the resulting corner, the Town were level!
Matt Hall’s delivery was just in front of the goalkeeper and Kelvin Osei-Addo met it well and it flew into the back of the net. Osei-Addo getting his fourth league goal of the season!
The game reached a bit of a lull, a cagey few minutes as both sides tried to assert dominance with the scoreline level.
On 70 minutes, Junior Muya seemingly picked up a very serious injury. The Town defender had to be stretchered off. We wish Junior a speedy recovery.
Brian Foulger replaced Muya, Leighton’s final change of the afternoon. McKee would move into Centre Back, with Foulger in the centre of the park.
Foulger played very well in his 25 minute spell and looked very comfortable on the ball.
The Town dominated the rest of the game and had chances to win the tie.
With 5 minutes of normal time remaining, Lewis McBride used his pace on the right hand side to get away from Debola.
He cut the ball back to Issac, but as he turned instead of taking it first time, the chance was closed down by Arlesey defenders, and Issac was forced wide and it ended up going out for a goal kick.
Issac would get one final chance though. The ball broke for him on the left hand side of the penalty area, he drove forward and fired across Ponting. His shot would go inches wide of the far post, leaving the score at 1-1.
Ryan Lamond would pick up Arlesey’s 4th booking of the afternoon just after Issac’s chance.
The Town played very well all afternoon, moving the ball fantastically on a good pitch at the New Lamb Meadow, with the midfield playing superbly throughout.
Despite Leighton’s great performance, the final chance of the game fell Arlesey’s way and they took it.
A corner deep into stoppage time, was whipped into the back post and it was headed back across into the path of former Town striker Lorrell Smith, who slotted past Wyant, making it 2-1 to his new team.
Heartbreak for Nicholls, his players and the Leighton fans, who thought they were going to take a point from a good Arlesey team, who didn’t play to their full potential on this occasion.
James Hatch then went in the book for a late lunge, making it 5 yellows for Arlesey.
Shortly after, the referee blew for full time and Arlesey came away with the 3 points.
The Town were massively unlucky this time out and on another day, it’s dead and buried and a comfortable Leighton win.
The Town are not in action now until the 22nd of September, when they host North Greenford United at Bell Close.
Come down and support the boys as they look to properly start their season. Your support counts!
Report by Kieran Carvell