Planters’ run brought to end by title chasers

Leiston 2, Norwich United 0

The Planters’ run of three consecutive wins was brought to an end at high-flying Leiston on Saturday.

Second-half goals from Gareth Heath and Danny Smy kept up the hosts title challenge despite a spirited rearguard action from the Planters.

United boss Paul Chick gave a debut to Friday loan signing Jon Lovelock, enabling Steve Shipley to replace Gareth Simpson in midfield, while fit-again Aarron Taylor replaced the injured Tom Jeal. With Ross King unavailable Paul Atkins came into the attack.

Leiston were enjoying the majority of possession but it was the Planters had the clearer early chances, Atkins heading wide at the far post from Matty Robinson’s left-wing cross. Another left wing cross from Justin Fox saw Atkin’s shot blocked, it fell to Lee Hunter who shot wide at the far post.

Planters keeper Ben Nower was being kept busy and had to punch clear twice in quick succession to keep Leiston at bay before having to hold onto a 20-yard shot from Angelo Harrop. On the half-hour mark Nower had to push away from a Leiston striker, only for Heath to fire wide.

Danny Cunningham’s free-kick was dealt with at the second attempt by Nower and the Planters deserved to be level at the break for an excellent defensive display.

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With Leiston attacking down the slope after the break Cunningham immediately shot across the face of goal and wide of the far post with Darren Bethell just unable to connect.

Leiston were soon ahead though when in the 52nd minute Heath with an improvised hook shot from the right saw the ball go over a stranded Nower and inside the far post.

The Planters responded when Taylor’s long ball was played on by Andrew Claydon to Atkins whose shot was well saved by Jamie Stannard.

With the Planters looking to get back into the game, Leiston looked dangerous on the break and Heath fired over and Nower had to come out quick to deny Harrop.

At the other end Lovelock saw his header tipped over by Stannard. Leiston meanwhile had a Cunningham goal chalked off for offside.

Smy missed an open goal when it looked certain he would score from Cunningham’s cross, but he made sure of the points just a minute later netting from close range from Harrop’s cut-back from the right.

The Planters still looked to get back in the game and Claydon saw his header deflected over and from the corner Lovelock headed onto the roof of the net.

Chick was full of praise for his side after the game, saying: “We defended well against a very good side. Jon Lovelock had a solid debut and Aarron Taylor had another good game at right back.”

Leiston: Stannard, Saker, P Brothers, S Head, Goldfinch, Calver, Harrop, Heath, Bethell (Smy 76), Cunningham, M Brothers. Unused subs: Hammond, Norfolk.

Norwich United: Nower, Taylor (Seabright 83), Key, Coe, Lovelock, Fox, Hunter, Shipley, Claydon, Atkins, Robinson (Furlong 78). Unused subs: Layton, Shannon.

Referee: N Evans. Assistants: G Wilson & P Crossland.

Attendance: 144.