First Team vs. Leek Town (0 : 2)
Evo-Stik League First Division South
Sheffield FC suffered another disappointing defeat, writes Stuart James, as they fell to a Tim Grice brace that gave a rather ordinary Leek Town all three points. Hitman Grice struck once in each half to give the Blues the win, scoring on 38 minutes and 73 minutes, with the visitors never really having to extend themselves to beat a very tame Club outfit.
Leek started the stronger on what was a fairly heavy - but more than playable – surface, and were keen to test the home keeper Tom Dunn from the off. The Aussie was at his best to stop a point blank effort from Chris Baker, and the floppy-haired wide-man caused more mayhem minutes later, as his ball into the middle caused a very nervy Sheffield defence to scramble clear.
Dunn denied Leek once again midway through the half, as he did well to deny Tim Grice an opener, pulling off a great save from a typical headed effort from the visitors’ front-man. At the other end some good aggressive play from Benny Igiehon set up a great chance for Sheffield debutant Anthony Bardon, and it took a tackle of the highest order in the midst of the Gibraltar international’s shot, to deflect the ball away from goal and to safety.
Sheffield’s cause was far from helped when ever-present James Gregory left the stage, suffering from a lower back pain, to be replaced by Temi Raheem. The reorganization gave Leek a chink of light to exploit, and after a lofted ball into the box moments later was not dealt with, there was GRICE to snap up the loose ball to tap in from close range.
After the original fixture back in November was abandoned on 55 minutes following a freak deluge, it came as no surprise that all eyes were on the heavens for the forecasted storm that was due around half time. Ironically even though the rain didn’t arrive in the fashion it was predicted, 10 minutes after the restart both teams were led from the pitch, as a fuse blew causing the floodlights to black out and send The Home of Football into darkness.
Luckily, the delay was only for ten more minutes, after some frantic repair work by the home officials. It also looked as if that endeavor had paid off, as when the teams re-emerged, it was Sheffield who started to gain the upper hand.
Sadly, though, for all the possession there was no way through a fairly resolute defence and nothing really sent to test Leek’s keeper Chris Martin. The closest Sheffield would come was after a good run by Temi Raheem, who set up Niall Thompson with the ball 20 yards out, with the winger’s drive flying over the bar.
On 73 minutes the lead was doubled, as a ball into the box was met by the trio of Sheffield’s Brian Cusworth and Tom Dunn along with Leek’s Tim Grice all scrambling for the loose ball, and as the mêlée cleared, it was the foot of GRICE that got the strongest touch to direct the ball into the empty net.
Grice followed this with an all-out attempt to grab his hat-trick, and seconds after his second, he should have grabbed a third after being left in the open before pulling the ball wide. In the last few minutes Grice had one more chance, after Club had lost possession cheaply, able to skip away from a rash tackle before failing to hit the target once again.
Sheffield FC: Dunn, Cotton, R.Ludlam, Bardon, Cusworth, Cooksey ©, Thompson, Foster, Igiehon, Worsfold, Gregory. Subs: McKenzie, Martin, Roney, Raheem, Stevens.
Leek Town: Martin, Bradbury, Jackson, Beaumont, Curley, Chadwick, Danylyk, Baker, Grice, Shelley, Maguire ©. Subs: Cropper, Holmes, Grocott.