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Chasetown FC bowed out of the UniBond League Challenge Cup with a 2-1 defeat at Leek Town. The home side had the better passing game throughout, with Chasetown on the back foot for much of the second half as the Blues pulled ahead, although the game came alive once more in its closing minutes. The first attack of the game saw the ball crossed to captain John Branch who fired over the bar from the right, before Danny Smith’s attempt to lob keeper Steve Hodgson was foiled and the ball rolled out for a goal kick. Ben Steane then produced one of his trademark runs through the centre and played the ball out to Craig Milligan on the left, but the winger fired his shot inches over the bar from a tight angle. Smith was determinedly battling the Blues defence as the play swung from end to end, Ashley Miller firing over the bar for the home side on 15 minutes with Ryan Price beaten.  Returnee Chris Slater and new loan signing Tom Marshall were working hard at the back as the hosts upped the pressure with some lively play, while the Leek defence was showing no sign of living up to its name. Steane departed on 31 minutes and was replaced by Richard Batchelor, while Hodgson did well to stop a shot from the right from John Branch six minutes later. In the closing minutes of the half Leek produced a good move through the centre and the ball was played out to Wayne Corden on the left, but he blasted his shot high over the bar. Four minutes into the second half the home side were in front as the Chasetown defence were caught out at a corner and Dan Cope rose to head the ball home. The lead could have been doubled three minutes later but Mark Ruddock fired Leon Ashman’s free kick wide of the far post, and Scholars manager Charlie Blakemore was in full cry from the dugout as he spurred his charges on. Cope went close again moments later as he headed over the bar, before Chasetown’s first chance of the half came as Branch crossed from the right, but Hodgson beat Smith to the ball. The hosts’ lead was doubled on the hour as the Blues attack fought a way through the Scholars defence leaving Ashman to complete the move. Price then dived at full stretch to deny Cope on 74 minutes before Gary Birch, on a strangely subdued night, had his first chance as he fired wide of the near post. Seven minutes from the end the Scholars were back in the game as Smith was set up nicely by Birch to beat Hodgson and fire home left-footed. Miller then went close to restoring the two-goal lead for the hosts, firing inches wide with a low right-footed shot, and the game had come alive but Chasetown could not find an equaliser. It’s back to League action on Saturday (October 31) as the Scholars visit Grantham Town (3pm kick-off) before travelling to Leek once again next Tuesday (November 3) for a 7.45pm kick-off. Leek: Hodgson, M Johnson, Taylor (c), Ruddock, Ward, Hawthorne, Brannan, A Miller, Ashman, Cope, Corden.  Subs: Bailey (Brannan 68), McMahon, Grice (Ashman 75), P Johnson, W Johnson. Chasetown: Price, J Branch (c), Milligan, Slater, Thomas, Marshall, Steane, Saunders, Birch, D Smith, Bragoli.  Subs: M Branch (Milligan 62), Batchelor (Steane 33), R Miller (Saunders 68), A Smith, Horton.

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