Last Gasp Goal Denies the Reds
By Dave Priestley
Colne went out of the play-off semi-final thanks to a last gasp goal in the final minute of the game at Leek on Wednesday night in front of a crowd of 1047.
The Reds had levelled the scores in the first half after Leek took an early lead and Colne had what they thought were two good goals ruled out for offside before the game went to extra time. The Reds were down to ten men by this point but looked like holding on for penalties before Leek struck with the winning goal.
In an even start, both sides looked to create openings with some attacking play and Brad Lynch made good runs on the left wing to supply high crosses into the home penalty area. Alex Curran looked lively up front and shot just wide of the Leek goal after 12 minutes.
But the home side looked dangerous when going forward and forced a series of corners which tested the Colne defence. After 14 minutes, Robert Stevenson broke clear on a through ball and shrugged off a challenge on his run into the Reds penalty area before shooting home from close range to give Leek the lead.
As Colne looked for a quick reply, Curran’s cross to the far post was headed just wide by Lynch and two minutes later Curran picked out Andy Hollins with his pass into the Leek penalty area and Hollins’ shot brought a great save from Leek keeper Danny Roberts to keep the ball out of the net.
As play swung to the other end Stevenson’s attacking runs repeatedly took him to the bye line but his firmly struck crosses eluded team-mates in front of goal. And on the half hour, it was Colne who came close again when Reece Webb-Foster headed just wide of the home goal from Lee Pugh’s diagonal cross.
But after 36 minutes, Brad Knox created space in the penalty area and Webb-Foster was on hand to blast home the equaliser past the helpless Roberts in goal.
Three minutes later as Colne cleared a corner kick from their penalty area, an end-to-end break by Waqas Azam and Curran saw Lynch find the net with a great finish for what looked an excellent goal but it was ruled out by an offside decision.
The second half began with Colne pushing forward and on the hour Pugh’s free kick into the penalty area was headed on by Billy Priestley and Webb-Foster was quickest to the ball to fire home at the far post for what looked a good goal but again it was ruled out by an offside decision. As Colne continued to attack, Richie Baker saw his goal-bound shot blocked in the penalty area after Pugh’s corner had been half cleared by the Leek defence.
Leek came back strongly and the Colne defence cleared a series of dangerous attacks with Stevenson the main threat and Jordan Johnson coming close with a shot blocked in the goalmouth after 70 minutes. But Colne almost took the lead after 82 minutes when Webb-Foster’s low cross into the Leek goalmouth was knocked against the crossbar by Knox and cleared by the home defence.
With a minute of normal time remaining, Webb-Foster was shown a red card after jumping into an opponent with his elbow raised and Colne faced the prospect of 30 minutes extra time with ten men.
In extra time, the Reds battled hard to contain the Leek attack and looked to hit the home side on the break with Ramirez Howarth creating a chance with a good attacking run for Azam to shoot just wide. But the home side looked increasingly dangerous as the game wore on and Colne were forced to defend in their own penalty area. It looked as if they would survive but in the last minute of the game a corner kick was half cleared from the goalmouth and fell to Tim Grice who blasted the ball into the roof of the net from a narrow angle for the winning goal.