By Tim Bellamy
Results go 2s way and championship secured
The day of reckoning.
In their final (and title deciding match), Leighton were host to a lowly placed Sonning. The result for Sonning would make very little difference to their final position in the league, whereas for the home side it had massive implications. Leighton having had an incredible season, not being placed below the top three all season long, knew they had to take the fight to Sonning. The home side started well showing excellent calm and composure, despite being slightly depleted without their injured vice captain Clive Warncken and their midfield warrior, Damian Glendenning. Leighton skipper, Tim Bellamy took charge of things giving good instruction to the entire team.
The home side looked good playing excellent possession hockey, switching play from side to side, across the back and utilising the flanks in excellent fashion. The defensive trio of Will Riley, Liam Wavish and Bellamy looking solid once again.
This superb play led to good pressure being applied and within 15 minutes a blistering attack from the home side was rewarded with a sweet tap in goal from Steve Fuller (pistons). Sonning dug in and had clearly come with a team wanting to compete !
The score remained at 1-0 to Leighton up until the half time whistle.
The second half got underway in summer like conditions, would the balmy conditions be a factor in the later minutes of the match with the possibility of fatigue taking it's toll on both teams.
Leighton continued with their sublime possession hockey, using the pivot of Bellamy well. The midfield engine of Tom O'Reilly, Martin Bailey, Fraser Retford and Tom Handley going to work on grinding the opposition down. Free flowing hockey from the home side continued to mount pressure on Sonning, leading to a typically predatory goal from David Jackson making the score 2-0 to Leighton. However, Sonning were not yet done for and rallied themselves to draw one back. 2-1, and all to play for. This was enough to get Leighton minds focused and the slap on the backside they needed. They had a fight on their hands !
With now focused minds, Leighton continued to play calm, composed & controlled hockey, looking like the potential champions they could be.
The pressure Leighton were applying was slowly building again. This led to a Leighton short corner, which was bludgeoned into the bottom corner by Bellamy. 3-1.
Seemingly feeling safe and that their work was done, Leighton momentarily took their foot off the gas. Sonning lept on this slight lapse in pressure and scored a cheeky second, 3-2 with ten minutes still to play.
With nerves now on edge, Leighton continued to take the game to Sonning, with superb team play taking place in what can only be described as some of the best possession play Leighton had displayed all season long. Switching play from flank to flank and utilising the pivot to great advantage, Leighton were pretty much 'camped out' in the opposition's half. Holding their one goal advantage to the end, thereby securing themselves promotion. Overall a brilliant team performance with joint men of the match Retford & keeper Jim Galloway (maintaining an excellent season long record, in terms of goals conceded).
The celebrations were commenced immediately at pitch side. As the celebrations continued a cheer went up from skipper Bellamy, news of other results had filtered through to the winning side, that as a result of a favourable outcome between title contenders Marlow & Windsor, not only had Leighton secured promotion, but they were also league champions. A thoroughly well deserved reward for season long effort and consistency. The Leighton Mens 2nd XI had achieved the double!!