Harrison Park, Leek
Northern Premier League Division One South
Match Rating: 4
For the second time in less than a month, my attempt to tick off another of the Football League 92 today was thwarted when Port Vale's game was brought forward to the Friday. So, with cheap but inflexible train tickets to Stoke bought a couple of months ago, the search was on for a non league game in the Staffordshire area. A combination of a reputed attractive ground, and with both teams going well in the league, prompted my final decision to head for the edge of the Peak District this afternoon.
Harrison Park is about a twenty minute walk from Leek town centre and indeed, there is a lot to like about the ground. It combines a traditional non league football ground feel with perfectly adequate facilities and a very pleasantly rural, friendly and intimate feel to the place. Spectators enter in one corner, and along the length, an all-seater main stand is positioned above several steep steps of terracing, and both offer excellent views of the action - apart from floodlight pylons across the front of the stand. Beyond the terrace is the clubhouse and tea bar, with a flat standing area. Behind both goals a few covered steps stretches between corner flags, while along the remaining length there is mostly terracing, with a stand covering part of it. The ground has quite a hemmed-in feel to it, with a steep hill immediately behind one end and a factory behind the other, with a hill close behind the main stand and housing behind the other. The hills of the Peak District are visible in the distance. The 24 programme was adequate if a little uninspiring, but certainly provided a good enough preview and background to today’s game.
Leek Town came into this game in sixth place, only outside of the play off positions on goal difference but with two games in hand, having won 14 and drawn 5 of their 29 league games. Today would be a tough game though, as the visitors were in second place, with 18 wins and seven draws from their 29 games, but were 13 points adrift of leaders Stafford Rangers, although they did have three games in hand. When the two teams met in October, the game finished 1-1.
On a mainly overcast and chilly afternoon, the home team started on the front foot and were rewarded with the opening goal on five minutes. Anthony Danylyk threaded a ball low through the defence which Time Grice ran on to before slotting the ball low across the keeper and into the net. They doubled their lead on 13 minutes with another very good goal. Kyle Diskin dribble the ball from close to the byline trying to find a pass but kept going until he reached the edge of the area before unleashing a powerful shot inside the keeper’s near post. The rest of the half was fairly uneventful as Leek controlled the game, looking very comfortable with their lead without looking likely to add to it.
After the second half started in much the same vein, the visitors were handed a lifeline with a very dubious looking penalty for a shoulder barge. Alexander Troke converted, placing the ball low to the right with the keeper diving the other way. Very much game on, and Coalville had a spell where they threatened to get back on level terms. That was pretty much extinguished on 75 minutes when Diskin whipped in a free kick just in from the corner flag and the keeper could only palm the ball into his own net. The result really was put beyond all doubt on 83 minutes when the ball was curled down the right wing by Diskin, sub Omar Haughton ran onto the ball and outpaced the defender before firing past the keeper from a slight angle. Leek saw the remainder of the game out comfortably to seal a convincing scoreline which reflected a commanding performance. Presumably this was just a bad day at the office for Coalville, but there is every chance that these two teams will meet again in the play-offs.