Kirkwood saves the day as Leighton Town win derby game at Dunstable

Leighton Town goalkeeper Brad Kirkwood  (Picture by Andrew Parker)
Leighton Town goalkeeper Brad Kirkwood (Picture by Andrew Parker)

Goalkeeper's heroics help Town stretch unbeaten league run to 13 games

Leighton Town stretched their unbeaten league run to 13 games with a 3-0 victory over Dunstable Town in Saturday’s festive derby.

Town’s players and supporters were very glad to get back into action after three weeks off.

Their pre-Christmas game at home to Arlesey fell foul to the weather, as had the previous weekend’s fixture with Baldock Town and midweek match against London Colney.

But they showed few signs that they had’t played since their 3-1 victory over Biggleswade United back on December 7.

And Town had goalkeeper Brad Kirkwood to thank for their excellent result, which maintains their fantastic record.

Manager Joe Sweeney was full of praise for the keeper, who made several impressive saves to prevent Dunstable from levelling.

“Brad Kirkwood was our man of the match,” said Sweeney. “His penalty save was the defining moment and that allowed us to go on and win well.

“Tom Silford was also outstanding at left back and both centre backs Dave Murphy and Carl Resch were faultless.

“Sonny Newbury came off the bench and scored his first goal in Leighton colours.”

That goal followed Danny Webb’s opener which gave Town a half-time lead after a solid start, but left plenty to do after the break.

Archie McClelland had made it 2-0 before Newbury’s late strike sealed the points at 3-0.

“It was a fantastic clean sheet and led to a good win in the local derby in front of a crowd of 246,” added Sweeney. “We had over 100 Leighton supporters, which was fantastic.”

With the countdown now on to their big FA Vase fourth round tie against fellow Premier division side Eynesbury Rovers, preparations will continue this weekend with a friendly, followed by a cup game on Tuesday, January 7. Leighton Town will welcome Buckingham United to Bell Close in the Bucks Charity Cup.

Sweeney’s in-form side go into the new year ninth in the Spartan South Midlands League Premier Division, with 29 points from their 18 fixtures so far and games in hand over all the sides above them apart from leaders Colney Heath, who have 46 points.

Second in the table are Tring Athletic, with 45 points from 19 games,with Biggleswade third with 38 from 21 matches. In fourth are Harpenden Town on 37 and Newport Pagnell Town are on 36 in fifth, both having played 20 games.

Sixth spot sees Crawley Green with 34 points after 23 games. Vase opponents Eynesbury - who visit Town on January 11 - are seventh, just two places and three points ahead of Leighton Town, having played one more game.

Eighth place is held by Oxhey Jets with 30 points from 19 games, with Leighton Town just ahead of Leverstock Green, whose 29 points from 21 games complete the Premier division top ten going into the new year.

Town can reflect on a satisfying end to 2019 in league and cup competitions with a team that is not and never will be about star players.

As Sweeney stressed before Christmas: “It is always about a squad of lads, who want to work hard for each other, performances and work ethic always comes before results for all of us, and this is the backbone of who we are, and what we are about.”