In front of an impressive home crowd of 727, City displayed why we have a lot of reasons to be optimistic about this team, an easy win against another step 4 side going well in the Southern Central League.
Liam Chadwick was the only significant absentee after picking up a knock against Spalding United on Monday but other than that, Robbie was able to field a strong side with Bradley Rolt coming into the starting lineup and setting up the same system we had against the Tulips, with Joe Hood playing a more advanced role on the right side of midfield.
The home side had more of the ball in the first 10 minutes but were unable to create anything that remotely troubled the back four or Joe Welch in goal.
Leighton Striker James Bursnside set his stall out early with a clumsy follow-through on Taylor Parr who was on the floor having made an excellent interception. Burnside fell to the ground leaving his foot in and catching Parr on the back of the head and then on 14 mins he saw red again after he had bundled Pat Staszewski to the ground in an attempt to try and win the ball. The pair fell in a heap and Burnside stood on the City man as he was getting up to make sure he left his mark, strutting around like a peacock after his clever antics.
Meanwhile, City’s passing game was coming together with Scott Bridges and Bruce Tsononis pulling the strings in midfield with some lovely passing and movement, Broccoli chipped in with a deft back flick that found Bradley Rolt on the edge of the box. The city man initially lost his balance but recovered to dance past a further 2 Leighton defenders and slot the ball cooly over the advancing keeper from 8 yards out.
Moments later Burnside attempted a Volley that was struck from the edge of the 18-yard box but went sideways rather than towards goal and never actually made it into the penalty area. Another easy clearance for Taylor Parr.
With City building up the pressure it was Broccoli again whose darting run into the box was cut back to the waiting Scott Bridges, 25 yards out, unlike his superb strike against Newmarket in the previous round he dragged his shot wide this time.
City's pace in attack was devastating at times and it was Bridges who broke from the edge of his own penalty area and released a pinpoint pass to Broccoli who had timed his run to perfection, the little magician took the ball down and crossed in for the on-rushing Bradley Rolt but the ball in was slightly ahead of the city striker and he got the slightest of touches onto the post. Joe Hood backing up also got a toe on the ball but Leighton keeper Xavier Comas Leon did well to get back and save with his feet.
Leighton almost got themselves back in the game courtesy of a missed tackle from Battersby that let in Louie Barrett who turned well and drove into the box before crashing a vicious shot off the post. Luckily for City the ball fell to Burnside who composed himself from 6 yards before carefully picking out Richard Black on the line.
The second goal before halftime was so important and it was Battersby's turn to provide some magic, turning his man brilliantly, Just inside the Leighton half, he out-paced the right back before knocking the ball around another defender and charging into the box, with the away fans screaming at him to shoot he cut inside another defender and unselfishly passed the ball across the 6-yard box to on Joe Hood who was never going to miss from that range and it was a 2-0 scoreline that City totally deserved.
The second half was only 2 minutes old when Rolt was chasing a clearance from the back, The Leighton keeper came out of his box and seemed to take an age to decide what to do, giving Rolt a chance to nip in front of him and the keeper could only swing a leg at the ball but missed and made contact with the City man. Yellow card and freekick to the away side.
The freekick was floated to the back post and cleared by the home side, although, from the resulting corner, City buried their opponents with a killer blow. Taylor Parr ghosted in at the back post totally unmarked, a side-foot volley perfectly placed in the top left corner and the game was effectively over with just 50 minutes on the clock.
Joe Welch was called into action after a blatant shove in the back of Jake Battersby, the ball fell kindly to Finley Brenan whose rasping shot was heading for the bottom corner but City’s Number one was more than equal to it, getting down quickly and saving one-handed.
As Leighton kept pushing forward, the gaps were opening at the back and Rolty was again through one on one with the defender, he held the ball up well and support arrived again in the form of Joe Hood on the overlap, a pinpoint pass tee’d up Hoody and he smashed the ball into the roof of the net from the corner of the 6-yard box. Another brilliant, well worked goal.
Burnside still ineffective in attack managed a shot from 40 yards when he had options in the middle to put a teammate in. Naturally, the shot troubled nobody and is more than likely still sailing down the Clipstone Brook that runs behind the goal.
59 minutes and the brilliant Brad Rolt was replaced by Ryan Ingrey and it wasn’t long before he himself made an impact, A deep cross from Pat Staszewski found the head of the towering Richard Black, his header expertly guided back across goal for a tap in at the far post.
Robbie then bought on Mikey Davies for Dan Cotton and Stan Leech replaced Broccoli with 25 mins still to play.
Leighton were immediately given an opportunity to get back into the game, Bruce Tsinonis bringing down their winger on the touchline, level with the 18-yard box. The freekick was whipped in and a nice flicked header from Leighton number 10 Jack Saywell found the far corner of the net.
Any thoughts of an unlikely comeback were extinguished on 73 minutes when Man of the Match (IMO) Joe Hood beat his man to the byline and cut the ball back to Bruce Tsinonis who redeemed himself with a lovely side-footed effort that found the corner of the net from 10 yards out.
A really great performance and we march in into the next round. With the FA Trophy tie away to Kings Langley next week and the FA Cup 2nd qualifier on the 16th, we won't be in league action again until Sept 30th September when we travel to Sporting Khalsa.