Burgess Hill Town 0 Blues 6
Four-midable Blake helps the Blues to fine win on their travels
Leiston looked to continue their excellent start to 2017 by building on their 5-1 win over local rivals Needham Market earlier in the week writes Ollie Fairs. They would have gone into the game looking to match that performance but they took it one step further and bettered it, coming out 6-0 victors on the day. Of the six goals, four were scored by Matt Blake who was unstoppable in front of goal. Unsurprisingly, Glen Driver kept the same starting eleven that won on Monday afternoon and the only change was Joe Francis returning to the bench.
The first 20 minutes of the game were very even and, at times, very scrappy as both sides struggled to get the ball down and play. However, the run of play soon started to swing towards Leiston when Joe Jefford headed just over the bar from a corner. Just minutes later and the Blues had taken the lead when Gareth Heath played a ball into Niko Muir-Merchant who shrugged off his marker in the box before turning and firing his shot past the keeper and into the bottom right hand corner of the net, scoring the first goal of the game in the 22nd minute. From that moment on it was Leiston doing all the attacking as the home side struggled to get the ball out of their own half. Patrick Brothers will count himself lucky not to have scored when he had a free kick tipped over the bar before heading the ball in to the net from the resulting corner, only for the Referee to disallow it for a foul in the box. The home side won themselves a rare corner which was drilled in low but was cleared out and Leiston were soon on the counter, Ollie Brown making a great run down the right before cutting it back to Matt Blake who brought it down nicely before striking the ball on the half volley to score his first and Leiston's second of the game after 25 minutes. Leiston's wing backs of Ollie Brown and Seb Dunbar were constantly causing major problems for the home side who could just not find a way to stop them. It was Seb Dunbar who once again made a great run in behind the defence on the left wing and was superbly played through by Byron Lawrence. Dunbar kept his cool and got his head up only to see Matt Blake free in the box who hit his shot high into the back of the net, increasing Leiston’s lead to three. When the Referee signalling for just one minute of added on time many would have thought that the first half would end with the Blues three goals to the good, but that was not the case. Ollie Brown played a long ball over the top for Matt Blake to chase which seemed it would be easily cleared until the Burgess Hill keeper ran head first into his own defender leaving them both on the floor, allowing Blake to simply walk the ball into the goal to claim his hat trick in the first half.
There is always a worry that a team with a big lead at half time would decide to sit back and try to protect their lead instead of looking to add to it. This was certainly not the case for Leiston. Just two minutes of the second half had passed before Matt Blake took his tally for the day to four. Byron Lawrence did well to lose his man in the middle of the park before threading an exquisite ball through to Blake who applied the finish the pass deserved, hitting it low into the side of the goal to the keepers right, giving the Blues a 5-0 lead with just over half the game still to play. Things could have got even worse for the home side (hard to believe I know) when their captain, Jack Brivio was clearly unhappy with a challenge from Byron Lawrence and appeared to push the Leiston midfielder but Referee ignored the appeals for him to be sent off however and only gave him a yellow which he was more than happy to take. It was clear that confidence was flowing through the Leiston team from the front to the back and this was clear to see in the 70th minute when Gareth Heath scored the final goal of the game in magnificent fashion. The ball cam bouncing towards him on the edge of the box before he flicked it over the head of the defender with his first touch and volleyed the ball home with his second. A magnificent goal to top off a magnificent performance.
FT - Burgess Hill Town 0 Blues 6
Burgess Hill Town - James, Pointing, Fisk, Pearse (Richardson-Brown 45 mins), Toure, Miles, Bolton, Brivio (Richmond 58 mins), Ayunga (Smith-Johnson 53 mins), Medlock, Harding. Subs not used - Nzala and Thompson.
Blues - Jacob Marsden, Brown, Dunbar, Ainsley, Jefford, Bullard (Hutchings 69 mins), Lawrence (Cole 57 mins), Heath, Blake (Francis 66 mins), Muir-Merchant, Brothers. Subs not used - Pelling and Joe Marsden.
Man of the Match - Matt Blake
Attendance - 303