Monday, 20 July 2015

Hadleigh United 3 v 1 Leiston

Friday 17th July 2015
Pre-season Friendly
Millfield, Hadleigh
Admission: £5.00
Programme: N/A
Attendance: 150 (estimate)
Match Rating: 3

For the second evening of my short stay in Suffolk, I decided to go to a ground that was only about 15 minutes drive from my hotel at Capel St Mary, for an otherwise not particularly enticing fixture. It turned out to be a good choice, however.

Millfield is only about a five minute walk west from Hadleigh town centre and, despite having modern facilities, is very easy on the eye. One enters through a turnstile along one length, to the left of which is the refreshment kiosk and covered standing, whilst to the right is a large building with a sports hall look, containing the spacious clubhouse, changing rooms, and is painted in dark blue so that it blends in quite well with the surroundings. There is also cover in front of this building, which continues the cover from the adjacent stand. Straddling the half way line on the other side is a stand with three rows of bench seating, whilst around the rest of the ground, including behind both goals, is just hard standing. On a summer's evening, it was a really pleasant place to watch football with a pint, with a lovely countryside feel to the ground, augmented with rolling fields behind the western goal, trees around most of the rest of the ground, and a spacious feel. No programmes were produced for this game.

There are two divisions separating these teams, with Hadleigh United finishing in seventh in the Eastern Counties League Premier Division, while Leiston finished in ninth in the Isthmian League Premier Division.

In the opening stages, Leiston threatened to blow the home side away, such was their total dominance, and they took the lead on four minutes when Joe Jefford found the net with a downward header from a corner. Hadleigh weathered the early storm, but it was still quite surprising when they got back on level terms on 15 minutes, albeit they were gifted the goal. A long ball should have been claimed by the keeper but he misjudged it above his head, only managing to get the faintest of finger tips to the ball, and the onrushing Marley Spindler ran onto the loose ball before tapping the ball into the unguarded net. Leiston came close to retaking the lead a couple of times before half time, but the scores remained level at the break.

Into the second half, which started quite evenly before the home side assumed the ascendancy. They went into the lead on 53 minutes, when some good trickery in the box resulted in the ball being pulled back from the byline, and was turned in first time at the near post from close range by Scott Chaplin. Leiston had their best chance to get back on level terms on 57 minutes, when a one-on-one was smothered, but on 68 minutes, Hadleigh extended their lead when a free kick by Danny Thrower from just outside the area was driven low into the bottom left corner. That pretty much killed the game, as neither side never really looked like scoring after that.

This was an entertaining game for a preseason friendly, and one which Hadleigh will take plenty of positives from, while Leiston looked good in patches but paid the price on the night for some rather sloppy patches.

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