Evo-Stik Division One South: New Mills AFC 0, Leek Town 2
AN EXCELLENT goalkeeping performance from debutant Joe McCormick was a significant factor in Leek Town securing the three festive points on offer at Church Lane on Boxing Day.
The visitors took the lead in the ninth minute when James McCarthy’s long throw-in was flicked on at the near post. Ben Nixon was first to react and nipped in front of his marker to steer the ball past James Coates from within the six-yard box.
McCarthy was pulling the strings in the middle of the park for Leek as they looked to increase their early advantage, but it was Carlos Meakin who very nearly drew the game level in the 18th minute.
Left back Jamie Kay, who was making his bow for The Millers, and Luke Horrocks linked up well before the latter played in the home skipper who from 20 yards curled the ball fractionally past the upright with keeper McCormick well beaten.
Just after the half hour, the home side produced by far the best move of the opening half when Kay and Horrocks this time involved Ashley Stott in their fluid passing movement. Horrocks’ resulting cross found Meakin and his first-time shot certainly looked goalbound until it fortuitously hit Glyn Mellor who knew absolutely nothing about deflecting the effort for a corner.
Leek probably deserved their lead at the interval but as the second half progressed, New Mills turned the tables as they gradually started to get on top and regularly attacked Leek’s goal.
McCormick, who signed for the Staffordshire side from fellow NPL Division One South outfit Rainworth Miners Welfare just prior to Christmas, started to come to the fore as he grabbed Meakin’s free-kick at the second attempt as the striking pack was rushing in on goal hunting the loose ball.
In a spell of around eight minutes, McCormick then made at least four excellent saves to deny Stott, Meakin, Jordan Edridge and Stott again as The Millers threw the proverbial kitchen sink at his goal.
As time ticked by and with New Mills continuing to push hard for an equaliser their second half display possibly merited, Leek killed the game off with a highly effective counter attack. Tony Barras was missing from the defensive line after being substituted following a sickening clash of heads which saw the centre half require eight stitches in a deep gash, and the visitor’s striker Tim Grice exploited the room afforded to him by collecting a long ball forward and coolly converting past the onrushing Coates with five minutes of the game remaining.
That effectively sealed the contest for Leek and the home side’s afternoon was topped off by the late dismissal of Syd Pickford who received a red card from referee Mr Bramall for his second cautionable offence.
New Mills: Coates, Edridge, Kay (Pickering), Bowler, Barras (Gale), Pickford, Meakin, Innes, Stott (Cox), Field, Horrocks.