FOOTBALL: North Leigh are denied at the death

7:00am Monday 24th February 2014

An injury-time goal dashed North Leigh’s chances of moving up to third spot in Calor League Division 1 South &  West on Saturday.
 

The Millers are still in a play-off place, but their position looked like being strengthened when they led 1-0 for nearly an hour, only to be denied at the death.
 

The Bridgwater pitch, which had not hosted a game since late December due to its proximity to the Somerset Levels flooding, was only passed fit a couple of hours before kick-off and was in very poor shape at this level.
 

After a slow start against a  physical opposition, North Leigh gradually took control of the first half, winning the midfield battle.
 

Two free-kicks taken by James Dobson posed problems for the home defence, while Stuart Hole’s header from a corner fizzed just over the bar.
 

With the Millers’ using Jacob Walcott as the front striker, the home defence, including centre back and skipper Chris McGrath – nephew of the ex-Manchester United star Paul – had to be on constant alert.
 

In a rare breakaway, Jake Hawford for the home side, tested North Leigh’s keeper Adam McHugh, who easily held his long-range shot.
 

North Leigh took the lead after 33 minutes.
 

From an attack down the right,  the ball eventually found Walcott in the box.
He in turn squared the ball across goal and Dobson, running in, crashed the ball past keeper Sam Alexander from close range.
 

Although the Millers continued to dominate the half, the poor ground conditions coupled with stout defence, kept them at bay.
 

The second half started as the first had with Bridgwater on top, but the visitors’ defence held firm.
 

At the other end, a Hole shot was blocked and then cleared off the Bridgwater line, with the keeper beaten.
 

With the home side introducing fresh legs, the pressure on North Leigh built up, and McHugh did well to deny home striker Tom Knighton a shot.
As the game entered injury time, North Leigh seemed to have weathered the storm.
 

But in a final twist and with their  last serious attack, Bridgwater worked the ball down the right flank and into the box.
 

Amid a series of challenges, up popped Knighton to stab home  the equaliser and give the Millers a long journey home.
 

North Leigh: McHugh, Hole, Hopkins, Turk, Gunn, Caton, Bowles, Osborne-Ricketts, Walcott (McDonagh 82), Woodley (Clark 87), Dobson (Williams 77) Subs not used: Westlake, Organ.
Attendance: 172.

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