Yarmouth push champions-elect

Great Yarmouth Town eased any relegation fears they may have had with a convincing 5-2 away win over second-bottom opponents Debenham LC on Saturday, and on Tuesday lost to a late goal in a 2-1 defeat at Ridgeons champions-elect Leiston, who lead the division by 13 points from Dereham with a game in hand.

Leiston 2, Great Yarmouth Town 1

A goal in the final minute of normal time saw off a resilient and battling Yarmouth, writes Colin Jones.

The match saw a return to the starting eleven of Gareth Palmer at the heart of defence, with Olly McCarthy giving way for the bench. With Jake Jessup unavailable the team had no goalkeeper substitute, a situation which came into play later in the evening. Another change on the substitutes’ bench saw Eddie Short come into the squad for Glen Spooner.

Having lost 4-0 at the Wellesley earlier in the season, and with Leiston 10 points clear at the summit of the Ridgeons Premier, it was always going to be a difficult match for the Norfolk side.

After six minutes Danny Cunningham expertly controlled the ball and crossed for Gareth Heaton to strike the Bloaters’ bar. Yarmouth then had a chance. Jamie Page, who has improved in recent matches after a slow start to his Yarmouth career, crossing to Scott Woodcock, whose effort was well saved.

Yarmouth battled well and transfer-listed goalkeeper Hilton saved well from a driven free-kick from wide on 16 minutes and did even better two minutes later, producing a double save from two Leiston headers.

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The match was highly competitive, with the plucky Yarmouth players battling for every ball. The contest was full-blooded but fair and credit goes to the referee for allowing the game to flow.

On 22 minutes Hilton showed why he is so highly regarded at the club and has clubs interested in him with a save right from the top drawer. An excellent Leiston volley looked about to burst the Yarmouth net before Hilton kept it out with a flying save.

Yarmouth fashioned another chance just before the half-hour mark, Woodcock crossing in for Dom to deflect the ball over thebar.

In the second half Leiston came out the stronger side and took the lead after a cross from the impressive Michael Brothers squirmed past Hilton and into the goal.

Brothers was involved again for another key moment of the match. He was unmarked but Hilton saved well from close range and seconds later an overhead kick went over the bar,. However, in the move Hilton was injured and after five minutes was substituted for Olly McCarthy, with Dominic Smith taking up the keeper’s gloves with an hour played.

Five minutes later Jake Reed, who was superb all night, produced a fine run and went down in the area, but against strong appeals, ‘play on’ was the verdict.

Leiston countered but Smith ran out well to snuff out the attack. There were more claims for a penalty as Reed was downed again a minute later, but yet again the referee was not interested.

Yarmouth got the equaliser their overall play deserved.Jo Bell, after a mazy run, flicked the ball forward to Reed, who took a touch before scoring.

Leiston hit the bar with ten minutes of normal time remaining, substitute McGlone’s effort was blocked and a goal-line clearance denied Brothers.

Yarmouth were still looking dangerous, and Woodcock cleared his lines, ran forward and released Reed, who went down in the box again, this time to fewer appeals.

Leiston continued to turn the screw and with 89 minutes on the clock found the net, Cunningham capitalising from confusion in the Yarmouth penalty area.

Tomorrow, Yarmouth are at home to Felixstowe and Walton United at the Wellesley 3pm.

Hilton is a doubt after his injury picked up at Leiston, meaning that Jake Jessup is expected to start in goal.

The side will aim to avenge their 5-2 defeat to the fourth-bottom side that was suffered in November.

The team also face a midweek game at second-place Dereham on Tuesday (7.45pm), looking to make amends for a 4-0 home defeat in August.