Leighton Town climbed out of the relegation zone courtesy of a Fleet Town own goal to earn them all three points at Bell Close.
Leighton thoroughly earned the win though thanks to some resolute defensive play and incisive attacks, lifting Stuart Murray’s men above Aylesbury United into 20th in Evo Stik Division One Central.
In the early exchanges it was Fleet creating the better chances, while Leighton were having good spells of possession but failing to use it.
Josh Harfield played in a neat cross for Fleet but Leighton keeper Bradley Kirkwood did well to claw it to Jordan Jenkins who cleared it out of play.
Leighton’s first real chance of the game came from James Hatch who started the move by linking up with Lewis McBride on the right wing before Fleet cleared for a corner. The corner was played into the box by Alex Woodfine and Hatch tried an overhead kick which was only just wide.
Rob Carr then tried the same thing for Fleet after Kirkwood found himself in No Man’s Land but his effort was wide as well.
Despite Fleet’s early chances it was the hosts who took the lead in the 21st minute after Hatch tried to cross it to Ben Gallant but after miscommunication by Jack White and goalkeeper Ryan Price, White inadvertently turned the ball into his own net.
The goal put the wind in Leighton’s sails as Hatch tried to extend Town’s lead following a cross from James Towell but his toe poke was saved by Price. Leighton were doing well to press Fleet and restrict them and it was a result of this and incisive one touch passing that led to Hatch’s next chance; a smart volley on the turn, but it was straight at Price.
Leighton’s defence were looking good making vital blocks and clearances and although Mlambo found himself one-on-one with Kirkwood the oncoming Leighton defender put him off enough to make him shoot straight at the keeper.
Fleet started brightly in the second half, as a corner caused a goalmouth scramble that led to a shot being cleared off the line by the Leighton defence.
Despite this scare Leighton were still creating chances of their own. Gallant tried an ambitious long shot that Price had to get down quickly to claw out.
The visitors were making Leighton work for their lead as another Fleet effort was cleared off the line following a throw in, however the hosts were still in control as substitute Jamal McKenzie-Lowe played in Hatch who would’ve had just Price to beat but was offside. McKenzie-Lowe was then involved again as Leighton won a free kick on the edge of the area. He stepped up to shoot and his effort nearly snuck in the right corner but Price, who was having a good game, was equal to it again.
To the visitors’ credit they didn’t give up as White and Mlambo tried to counter but Kirkwood was there like a shot to claim the ball after Mlambo’s touch was too heavy. Mlambo was one of Fleet’s main attacking outlets as he nearly found himself in again but again Kirkwood was equal to him.
Curtis Shaw was Leighton’s second substitute of the game coming on for Isa Bangura and he nearly made it 2-0 after he ran and dispossessed Price in the 18 yard box but he could only shoot straight at the stopper. Shaw was troubling Fleet’s defence as soon as he came on running at them trying to win the ball and when he won the ball he kept driving on and by doing this he had another shot but Price was once again equal to him.
Fleet had one last chance to equalise minutes before the end as chaos in the Leighton 18 yard box led to Fleet hitting the post but Kirkwood eventually got a goal kick and Leighton saw the game to win their first game of the new year.