Leighton Town are back in the Evo Stik Division 1 Central relegation zoneafter going down 1-0 at home to AFC Rushden & Diamonds.
Tom Lorraine scored the only goal of the game five minutes after the restart when he pounced on Elliot Sandy’s saved strike to give Diamonds all three points.
Town’s relegation rivals Aylesbury United made no mistakes in their game with bottom club North Greenford United, thumping them 3-0 to climb back out of the drop zone after they were put there by Stuart Murray’s side on Good Friday.
Town are now two points from safety with five games remaining - one more than United.
Saturday’s game at Bell Close was a vital one for both sides. Leighton ame into the game on a good run of form, unbeaten in their last 3 games after last Saturday’s impressive win away to Potter’s Bar, while Diamonds are still within six points of top spot.
Both sides started brightly enough but the Diamonds could have gone ahead when a corner came in and was cleared off the line after a scramble in the box.
The visitors looked very good from set plays and when another dangerous corner came in the Leighton defence did very well to clear their lines.
One of Leighton’s best chances of the first half fell to Alkali Darboe who struck a fierce shot just outside the box and it was inches wide of the post.
Leighton were looking a lot more physical as a side and after Josh Murray won the ball in the Rushden half, his long shot went wide.
Leighton were also playing well defensively and after Claudin Hoban tried to slide in Tom Manship it was blocked and well cleared.
Tom Lorraine had a good chance on the near side for the visitors but his shot was well wide in the end and didn’t trouble Kirkwood in the Leighton goal.
Set pieces were still where the visitors were looking the most dangerous and another corner had to be clawed over the bar by Kirkwood. Rushden were also good at pressing Leighton and when Darboe tried to play in Ben Gallant he was shut down very quickly.
Rushden were also good at pressing Leighton and when Darboe tried to play in Ben Gallant he was shut down very quickly.
By halftime it was surprising to see how the game was still at a stalemate as both sides had good chances at the end of the half James Jepson with a free kick that hit the post for the visitors while Andy Fagan had a free header that was just wide following Lewis McBride’s corner.
Rushden got the only goal of the game in the 50th minute when Elliot Sandy hit a curling shot, and though keeper Kirkwood did well to reach it, but he could only palm it to Lorraine who blasted it from close range into the empty net.
Rushden looked lively after their goal and could have added to their lead when substitute Jon Stevenson turned and shot just wide.
Leighton on the other hand were having good spells of possession but struggling somewhat to create chances.
However James Hatch was instrumental in creating chances in the second half, firstly sliding in Aaron McKee who couldn’t get his effort and then hitting a powerful shot outside the D just over.
Something quite bizarre happened in this second half when Diamonds substitute Lewis Leslie was told by the referee to get off the pitch to change his shorts.
The substitutes had changed the tempo of the game for Leighton who were still searching for an equalizer but Rushden did well to see the game out and claim all three points.
Leighton are at home to Uxbridge on Tuesday before travelling to Northwood on Saturday.