Match preview: Leek Town (A)
Andrew’s Match Preview
Leek Town v Colne
Saturday 26th November - 15:00
Colne travel 70 miles to Staffordshire to take on second placed Leek Town in the Northern Premier League West.
Leek Town, nicknamed the Blues, play their home games at Harrison Park, which holds 3,600 spectators and they have an average attendance of 702 this season, boosted by a 2,024 home gate against local rivals Macclesfield. Last season, the Blues finished in 3rd place in the NPL West with 79 points which earned them a semi-final play off spot which they lost 1-4 at home to Runcorn Linnets. In the head to head with the Reds last season, Town did the double over Colne by winning at home 2-0 in February, with goals from Scott Wara and Tim Grice and recording a 1-0 victory at Holt House 6 weeks later through a solitary strike from Louis Keenan from the penalty spot.
This season the Blues have won 9, drawn 5 and lost 1, and currently sit in 2nd place with 32 points from 15 games. At home, Leek have won 4 out of 7 league games beating Prescot Cables 4-1, Hanley Town 4-1, Clitheroe 3-2 and Widnes 3-0. They also have a couple of 1-1 draws with Ramsbottom United and Kidsgrove Athletic and a 1-3 loss to league leaders Macclesfield. Away from home they have won at Bootle 4-0, Mossley 2-0, City of Liverpool 5-0, Trafford 2-0 and Witton Albion 2-1. In the FA Cup, Town were knocked out at the preliminary stage due to a 1-5 home defeat to Atherstone Town. In the FA Trophy, the Blues won at Coleshill Town on penalties after a 4-4 draw, defeated Atherton Collieries 3-0 away, and recorded a 2-1 home win over Worksop Town, before going down bravely 0-1 at National League North side Chorley last Saturday.
Leek Town players to watch - Mr Leek Town; Tim Grice is Leek’s record goal scorer and already has 7 this campaign. Tim came through Stoke’s academy and also spent time at Aston Villa. The 33 year old striker notched 18 goals last term and has been at the club since 2011.
Former Stoke City academy winger Rob Stevenson is in his second spell with the club representing Market Drayton Town, Belper Town, and Stafford Rangers before returning in 2016. Rob has scored 8 times already this season.
Named in last season’s NPL West’s team of the season, midfielder Dan Trickett-Smith was prolific in front of goal, scoring 19 times. After starting out at Crewe Alexandra, Dan earned a contract at Liverpool before moving to the USA and signing for Sacramento Republic. Another in his second spell at the club, bookending a pro contract at Port Vale.
Centre-half Josh Ryder was a scholar at Port Vale and was once on the books at Wolves. He joined the Blues from Congleton Town after impressing in the North West Counties. A classy defender, Josh likes to get forward whenever possible and has netted 3 times this term and been an ever present.
Skipper Marc Grocott, spent 10 years at Stoke City before dropping down to play for Kidsgrove Athletic. Combatative midfielder and fan’s favourite “Groctuso” has been at the club since 2017. Young, pacy forward Tom Carr is well regarded, and he joined the club in the summer from Stafford Rangers. Tom has scored 6 times this season in his first try at step 4.
31 year old no nonsense defender Louis Keenan joined the club from Loughborough Dynamo in 2019 and in his first 3 seasons he played 95 out of a possible 96 games! Louis is another ever present this campaign.
Another virtual ever present since joining the club, defender Oliver Harrison was a scholar at Crewe Alexander before plying his trade in Sweden. Oli, moved to Leek on his return to England in 2019, and was selected in last season’s NPL West team of the season.
Neil Baker is in his third spell as club manager, and he returned to Leek in the summer of 2017, after spending 23 years in various roles at Crewe Alexandra.
Last time out for the Reds - Last Saturday, the Reds faced National league North side AFC Fylde away, in the 2nd round of the FA Trophy. Paul Dugdale and Owen Watkinson were restored to the side, after being rested for the mid-week visit to Newcastle Town, in place of Tom Fagan and Lucas Weaver. The realities of facing a full time professional club, two divisions higher, were apparent from the off, as the Reds struggled to see much of the ball in the first half as Fylde dominated the game and dictated the play, taking full advantage of their obvious pace and quality in the final third. It was no surprise when that quality bore fruit, and after 30 minutes the home side were two up with a goal from the dangerous Ligendza and a soft header from midfielder Joe Rowley. Phil Brown’s half-time pep talk must have given the Reds a sense of belief, as they set about the opposition straight from the kick-off. Luke Stowe finally got to see some action, and his fantastic run and cross from the left created a scramble in the Fylde penalty box and Craig Carney’s stabbed effort was adjudged to have crossed the line by the referee’s assistant, to make the score 2-1. Colne tried to kick on for an equaliser; their best chance coming from a good appeal for a penalty, made after another penetrating Stowe dribble, but the home side saw the game out, and it was they who progressed to the 3rd round. An impressive 2nd half from the central midfielders with Craig Carney’s goal edging him Colne’s man of the match.
Who’s on Ashh’s couch? - Disappointingly, Luke Stowe pulled his hamstring in training and he’ll be out for about a month, so he won’t feature against Leek.
McDaniel “Danny” Kyobe is recovering from a fractured collar bone and he should soon be back in non contact training.
Aaron Turner will start treatment and rehab next week, concerning his meniscus knee issue.
Jack Doherty is still awaiting surgery for his ACL injury, that will rule him out for the season.
Hakan Burton is keeping fit whilst nursing his shoulder injury, and he is well ahead with his rehabilitation, which may well see him return sooner than first thought.
Team news - Either Tom McCann or Tom Fagan are likely to come in for the injured Luke Stowe. McCann would be a straight replacement, whereas Fagan could play as right CB moving Tom Hoyle over to the left and Paul Dugdale left midfield. Enoch Lusiama will be partnered by either Owen Watkinson or Lucas Weaver up front. Harry Winstanley will probably be brought back slowly so he’s likely to make the bench, along with Kardacz, Wallbank and Lombard.
Leek Town finished 3rd in this league last season and currently sit in 2nd place, behind big spenders Macclesfield. In their last game, Town had a very similar experience to the Reds, in that they lost narrowly at National North League side Chorley 1-0, in the FA Trophy, despite their 2 main strikers not being risked. Prior to this fixture, the Blues had won their previous 8 games in cup and league, scoring 24 and conceding just 5. They haven’t lost since mid August in the league, and they will be very confident of picking up another 3 points at Harrison Park. Colne were on an unbeaten run of 5 prior to last week’s FA Trophy loss, and they have only lost 1 league game away from Holt House this season. Leek set up 442, and their two main strikers - Grice and Stevenson- are likely to return, and they’ve notched up 15 goals between them this campaign. The Blues also score plenty of goals from set pieces and corners, and the Reds’ defence will need to be alert and stand strong. This all points to it being Colne’s toughest league game of the season so far, and anything Phil Brown’s side can get from the game, will be a huge fillip going forward.
Admission Prices are:
Adults : £10
Concessions : £7
Under 18s : £3
Under 8’s: Free
Leek Town FC
F.Ball Community Stadium
Sat 3 December - Colne v Macclesfield - 13:00 NPL West
Tues 6 December - Colne v Witton Albion - 19:45 NPL West
Sat 10th December - 1874 Northwich v Colne - 15:00 NPL West
Today’s NPL West games - 15:00
Bootle v Skelmersdale United
Clitheroe v Glossop North End
Mossley v City of Liverpool
Prescot Cables v Macclesfield
Ramsbottom United v Runcorn Linnets
Trafford v Newcastle Town
Widnes v Kidsgrove Athletic
Witton Albion v Hanley Town
Workington v 1874 Northwich