For the first time in three weeks North Leigh returned to Southern League action as they made the trip to face Kempston Rovers FC. After FA Cup and Trophy exits in successive weekends joint managers Craig Dore and Darren James were, no doubt, looking for a good performance and a return to winning ways.
Several changes were made to the line up from the previous weeks cup match with a notable return up front for the fit again George Seacole. Centre back Andy Gunn also started with the Millers deploying a strong defence and the midfield duos of Grant and McNish were back together with Rory Linford-Pill being selected on the subs bench after working hard since his return.
North Leigh made a slow start to proceedings, as Rovers’ players Jake Newman and James Sage both forced saves from Eddie Cavanagh with little more than two minutes on the clock. Nevertheless, the Millers’ first attack produced the game’s opening goal after five minutes. Ekow Elliott got away from his man, showing excellent pace down the right, and squared for Seacole to cut back for Josh Dutton-Black who smashed home from the edge of the box.
Just before the half hour, Rovers found an equaliser out of nothing. A high, hanging ball was half cleared by Ben Brown where former football league player Izale McLeod met it on the full. His thunderous volley from all of 25 yards found the bottom corner of the net, Cavanagh was given no chance.
McLeod was then gifted the chance to put Rovers in front. Another hanging diagonal ball was sent into the edge of area with Cavanagh coming all the way but clattering into McLeod - penalty awarded.
Cavanagh, having fallen awkwardly, took his time, dusted himself off and produced a splendid save down to his right to keep the scores level.
Cavanagh, having fallen awkwardly, took his time, dusted himself off and produced a splendid save down to his right to keep the scores level. Three minutes before half time and the home side did take the lead. Once again a long ball causing problems for the Millers back line as the knock down was touched round a defender into the path of McLeod who simply diverted the ball into the far corner. Kempston with the lead at half time.
The start of the second half was a real battle in the centre of the park. The Millers looking more composed in defence, restricted the attacking potential of the hosts, whilst looking to push forward in search of the leveller. Midway through the half, Rovers conceded a foul on the edge of their box. Morgan Williams stepped up and squeezed his left-footed effort under the wall and into the corner of the net, just out of reach of home keeper Carl Knox.
With twenty minutes left to play, the Millers’ tails were up as they pressed for the winner. Aaron Woodley, Roger James and Jordy Ngathe were all sent on, adding renewed tempo to the attack. Three minutes from time and Woodley was played in behind the home defence, he pulled the ball back to McNish who jinked past his man in the area. He shot goalwards but a combination of keeper, defender and post contrived to keep it out, only for Dutton-Black to bundle home his second of the afternoon and claim the lead for North Leigh.
Kempston pressed for a late equaliser but instead Dutton-Black caught them on the break, squaring to McNish, who this time found the back of the net with a deflected effort securing all three points in the process.
An important victory on the road for the Millers that ends a run of four defeats in five matches.
An important victory on the road for the Millers that ends a run of four defeats in five matches. A much-improved performance all over the pitch from the players, with a stand out performance from Dutton-Black as he bagged two goals and was involved in the other two as well.
Attention now turns to the re-arranged League Cup game on Tuesday evening against Banbury United FC. The visitors have started their season well, sitting in the play-off positions in the Southern League Premier division, and will no doubt provide a stern task. There is no league game next weekend for the Millers, but they will make the trip to Coleshill Town FC on Monday 14th October.
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