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Leek Town FC 1 Chasetown FC 3

Duncan Horler scores for Chasetown. Pic: Dave Birt

Duncan Horler scores for Chasetown. Pic: Dave Birt

A home tie in the playoff semi-finals is now on the cards for Chasetown following an excellent 3-1 win at Leek Town.

John Branch headed Leek’s opening attack clear in the third minute as some lively end-to-end action was displayed over the opening minutes, with both defences able to counter whatever was thrown at them.

The Blues lost Steve Brannan after he took a knock 18 minutes in, but they had a great chance to take the lead four minutes later when Dan Cope produced a fine solo run and attempted to fire over Ryan Price but his shot cannoned off the crossbar.

Mark Branch’s dangerous-looking free kick was then stopped by home keeper Steve Hodgson, and with the home fans in full voice the Blues began to pressure their opponents further, Cope slotting the ball between the Scholars defence on 35 minutes but his shot went wide.

Grant Ryan then cut in from the left four minutes later, but the diving Hodgson pushed his shot round the post. The resultant corner saw Duncan Horler well-placed to thread the ball neatly through a gap at the near post and put the Scholars ahead.

Price then leapt to punch a free kick over the bar as Leek peppered his goal with a number of chances, and in stoppage time Cope’s header across the face of goal was successful and nestled in the far corner to draw the Blues level.

Danny Smith scores against Leek Town. Pic: Dave Birt

Danny Smith scores against Leek Town. Pic: Dave Birt

After a slower start to the second half Dean Crowe’s free kick was blocked on the line, but Chasetown picked up the pace and were back in front in the 59th minute when Danny Smith powered a right-footed shot past Hodgson.

Leon Ashman then went close for Leek with a header as the pace continued to quicken, with an aerial bombardment from both sides.

On 73 minutes Price had to be alert as he dived to palm away Wayne Cordon’s 20-yard shot, and a comeback from the home side was looking likely.

A long-range effort from Smith four minutes later flew wide before Dean Perrow joined the attack for the final quarter of the game, and he tried a cross from near the goal line towards Dave Egan but keeper Hodgson got between them in time to save.

The game became more physical in its closing minutes, and John Branch became the second Chasetown player of the week to be shown the red card following a challenge on Cordon in the 90th minute for a second booking. This did not faze the Scholars in the slightest, however, and with the last attack of the game three minutes into added time Perrow played the ball to the rapid Egan on the right allowing him to slot the ball cleverly under Hodgson’s body for the visitors’ third goal.

Chasetown’s final fixture before the playoffs takes place at the Scholars Ground this Saturday (April 24) when Kidsgrove Athletic are the visitors (3pm kick-off).

Dave Egan seals Chasetown's 3-1 win at Leek Town. Pic: Dave Birt

Dave Egan seals Chasetown's 3-1 win at Leek Town. Pic: Dave Birt

Leek: Hodgson, P Johnson, Taylor, Ruddock, Allen, Hawthorn (c), M Johnson, Brannan, Ashman, Cope, Cordon. Subs: Crowe (Brannan 18), Robinson, Macari, W Johnson (Crowe 61), Cooper.
Chasetown: Price, J Branch, M Branch, Slater, Horler, Teesdale (c), Steane, Egan, D Smith, Ryan, Jevons. Subs: Thomas (Steane 70), L Smith (Horler 93), Perrow (Ryan 77), Birch, Woolley (GK). Goals: Horler 40, Cope 45, D Smith 59, Egan 93. Referee: Mr M S Perry. Attendance: 306.

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