Town end on a high with AFC Hayes win

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Leighton Town snatched 18th place on the final day of the season with a comprehensive 3-1 win over relegated AFC Hayes on Saturday.

Craig Bicknell’s men leap-frogged Daventry Town, who lost 2-0 to Godalming Town, on the last day of the Evo Stick Division 1 Central campaign to take 18th spot with their 10th win.

The match not only brought the curtain down on another season for Town, but it would also mark the end of an era for Tyrone Taylor, who has decided to hang up his boots.

Despite already being relegated Hayes made a much brighter start in their final Division 1 Central clash, and took an unlikely lead after just eight minutes as Ryan Debattista strolled past Dave Murphy, and rolled the ball past keeper Zaki Oualah.

Leighton struggled to make an impact on the game though, despite being a goal down.

Their first chance didn’t materialise until the 23rd minute as Robbie Goodman headed wide of the upright.

It seemed to spur Town on though as they remained on the front foot.

Hayes were lucky to still be in the lead six minutes before half time, and had keeper Sam Mazurek to thank for keeping them in front as he made a top stop to keep out Phil Draycott’s fierce strike.

Eventually Town’s pressure told though, and they were level just before the break as Gary Ridgway fired in from close range to equalise.

But there was more drama just before the whistle, as Mark Bunker brought down David Manu just outside the penalty area. Tom Dawson stepped up with the free kick, but Robbie Goodman was on hand to clear the danger.

And with the Hayes players expecting half time, Draycott took full advantage, nut-megging keeper Mazurek to give Leighton the lead going in at the break.

Tempers began to flare in the second half, and it made for a disjointed affair. Manu squared up to Dave Murphy just four minutes after the restart, while Mike Kinsella did more damage to himself than to Christian Lester when he clattered into the Town man, having to be substituted through injury.

With the lead, Leighton were the only side who looked likely to add to the score line. Draycott spun a decent shot just wide of the post, while Taylor was denied a fairytale ending as he headed narrowly over the bar.

With time running out in the game, and indeed the season, Leighton snatched one more for the road with seven minutes remaining.

With the Hayes defence looking worn down, sprightly substitute Ash Farmer took full advantage, knocking home Town’s third.

Hayes had a late chance of pulling one back with a dangerous looking free kick just outside the box, but it was well cleared by substitute Alvin Rajaram.

At the final whistle, Town knew they’d leap-frogged Daventry into 18th - a fine finale to the season for a side playing at this level for the first time this season.