Town prove their point
Enfield Town 1 Leiston 1; historic play-off awaits
Town entered the Ryman League Premier Division play-off semi-finals for the first time in their history by virtue of this hard earned point. Leiston needed a win and were very close to achieving their objective. As it turned out, a win or a defeat for Town would not have affected their qualification, but it was heartbreak for the Suffolk visitors who were five minutes away from joining Town in the top five positions. Town now visit to Dulwich Hamlet this Thursday (27th); it is sure to be a packed ground and a cracking atmosphere.
The Blues went onto the offensive straight from the off, and Nathan McDonald had to be alert to grab the ball from the feet of Ade Cole and then clear from the onrushing Matt Blake early on. Blake then headed over when well placed while, at the other end, a great run from Karl Oliyide down the left produced a cut back to Dernell Wynter, but the Town striker was blocked as he tried to get the ball out from under his feet to shoot.
Billy Crook fired over, and Harry Ottaway and Tyler Campbell both set up Wynter whose shots were too high on each occasion. A diving header from Wynter flew fractionally wide from Campbell's cross just beyond the half hour mark.
Ten minutes before the break, Jack Ainsley shot from distance and the ball dipped too close for McDonald’s comfort over the home crossbar As the game entered first half stoppage time, Gareth Heath, who has a prolific scoring record against Town, rose at the far post above Billy Crook to guide a cross from the left past McDonald for the opener.
Half-time: Enfield Town 0 Leiston 1
Town needed to up their game after the break with the Blues in the driving seat, and Ollie Brown soon made a vital clearance following a great low cross from Oliyide from the right, following a positional switch with Tyler Campbell.
After a couple of set pieces had come to nothing for the visitors, former Towner Ade Cole fired over after a mistake by Jon Muleba. But the hosts were growing into the game, and Oliyide burst through in a central position and took the ball past keeper Ashlee Jones, but lost control at just the wrong moment as he looked destined to score with his left foot.
Around the hour mark Blake spurned a great opportunity after McDonald had been sold short by an underhit back pass from Ricky Gabriel but, following a number of substitutions, Town began to work up a head of steam and it came as no real surprise when they eventually equalised.
Wynter shot wide from Ottaway’s pass and Ainsley saw yellow after hacking down Oliyide in full flight. Scott Shulton and Mickey Parcell were both off target but then, with five minutes of regular time remaining, one substitute, Samir Bihmoutine, crossed for another, Bobby Devyne, who volleyed home a deserved equaliser from close range. There was insufficient time for Leiston to summon a response. Devyne subsequently picked up a knee injury when he stretched for a ball in the penalty area unchallenged, which was serious enough for him to be carried off and he looked very doubtful for Thursday’s vital knock-out clash.
Enfield Town: Nathan McDonald, Jon Jon Muleba, Ricky Gabriel, Harold Joseph, Mark Kirby, Scott Shulton, Tyler Campbell (Mickey Parcell 60), Billy Crook (Samir Bihmoutine 80), Dernell Wynter (Bobby Devyne 67), Harry Ottaway, Karl Oliyide, Samir Bihmoutine. Unused subs: Nathan Livings, Percy Kiangebeni.
Leiston: Ashlee Jones, Oliver Brown, Seb Dunbar, Jack Ainsley, Joe Jefford, Tom Bullard, Armani Schaar (Conor Hubble 62), Gareth Heath, Matt Blake, Niko Muir-Merchant, Ade Cole (Jake Hutchings 78). Unused subs: Joe Francis, Joe Marsden, Harry Lay-Fulcher. Booked: Ainsley.
Attendance: 812 (home league record).