CHAMPIONS! Leighton Town secure title and promotion with four games to spare

Leighton Town secured the Spartan South Midlands Premier Division title and with it promotion to step four of the non-league pyramid with a 2-1 win at Biggleswade United on Thursday night.
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The Reds have faced a considerable fixture backlog in recent weeks but have long been favourites to take the title honours having lost just three games so far.

They’re now 12 points clear of second-placed Stotfold who only have three games remaining, with Leighton themselves still having four games to play.

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Knowing what needed to be done, Town battled hard against a determined Biggleswade and forced some early inroads with Leon Lobjoit most notably hitting the post 18 minutes in. With former Town keeper Ollie Leslie rooted and the striker clean through down the right, it was agonisingly close.

Leighton's players celebrate their title win. Photo: Leighton Town FC.Leighton's players celebrate their title win. Photo: Leighton Town FC.
Leighton's players celebrate their title win. Photo: Leighton Town FC.

That said, Town kept their heads up and just ten minutes later, Archie McClelland opened the scoring. United playing the ball round the back had been a common feature so far in this game, yet keeper Leslie was caught out this time, and McClelland nicked the ball before craftily tapping into the open net on 33 minutes.

Just as the ball had been picked out the net, it was seemingly straight back in there as just five minutes later, Leighton had their second goal. After a fine close-range Leslie save at his right post, the hosts failed to clear and it dropped nicely to Lobjoit who blasted in for his 56th of the season.

Just moments later, Oran Jackson headed wide from a corner as Town continued the pressure before the break.

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After an admittedly flat period in the second half, the game picked up in the final 20 minutes. On 71’, Lobjoit rose well and latched on to a ball from the right at the back post. His header though, was just too high.

Following this, the home side struck back through the talismanic Taylor Rhiney. He was played in down the left side of the box before opening up his body well to have Xavi Comas sprawling as the ball nestled in the bottom right corner on 80 minutes.

This would’ve put the backs up slightly as the game drew to a close, but Leighton saw out the win – cuing jubilation with the travelling fans in attendance.

Champagne was flowing in the changing rooms, but Town will have to put it on ice for now – receiving the trophy at a later date.

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On Saturday, this gruelling season continues as St Panteleimon come to Bell Close in a game that could have a raucous home atmosphere.

Boss Lee Bircham said: “I’m delighted, for everyone at the club but most of all for the boys because they’ve been a different class.

"We’ve only lost three games all season and that includes the cups given we’ve only been knocked out on penalties, but we’ve been competitive all season and we’ve thoroughly deserved it.

"You won’t get a group of harder workers than them and there’s some unbelievable ability in there and the whole season has been great and nothing short of what we deserve.

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"It hasn’t been easy – it’s been a tough season and I know people probably look at us and think we can just win most weeks but it’s not like that. We’ve taken a couple of bloody noses but every time we’ve done that we’ve responded.

"We’ve changed personnel which unfortunately you have to do but who we’ve brought in has been as good as if not better than what went out.

"So as a group they’re phenomenal but there’s a lot of people at this football club who are delighted – this club shouldn’t make the mistake of going down to step five again because it’s too big a club and hopefully we can go up and stay there now and then push on after that.

"But what a season, I’ve loved it.”