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Thursday 1st January 2015 ko 15.00

Isthmian League Premier Division

LEISTON 1 (Godbold 78og)

WITHAM TOWN 1 (Wraight 21)

Att 210

Entry £10

Programme £2

Badge £3.50

As a carload of slightly hungover groundhoppers half clambered, half fell out the car at the Crown Inn, Leiston no one remembered just how close we all were to Sizewell Nuclear Power Station. Just the railway line with its old-fashioned level crossing gates gave a clue when we bumped over the line, waking my 3 passengers!

The Suffolk town grew in the 19th century through the production of steam tractors. At the Leiston Works, Garrett & Sons produced the vehicles together with a wide variety of metal products, munitions included.

The latter was mainly to service RAF Leiston whose most famous resident was General Chuck Yeager the American pilot who in 1947 became the first man to break the sound barrier, Mach 1, in his experimental Bell X-1 aircraft.

In the 60’s Leiston became famous as the home of Summerhill School. It was founded by A.S. Neill in the 1920’s as a “Free” school where children are not required to attend classes and discipline is given by pupil self-government meetings.  The school occupies the former mansion of Richard Garrett, owner of the Leiston Works.

The LTAA, or Leiston Town Athletic Association is neatly tucked away near the end of Victory Road, so neatly in fact that I drove past the entrance! They’re a friendly bunch here, even down to the gateman with the Coventry City bobble hat! I made the inevitable trip to the club shop where the two, “Angels without wings” carried on the friendly theme neatly separating me from £7 for two badges.

A good move on a New Years Day when no takeaway or café was open was to have fish & chips as a £3.50 special available in the clubhouse, and the queue at the hatch spoke volumes.

The ground shows the club’s rapid rise from Eastern Counties League football. As the promotions have come, then a new stand has been delivered. One behind the goal, 3 by pitchside. The sightlines are good, even if the scholars of classic football stadium architecture may wince. It does the job, and that’s what matters most to the club and its fans.

With Leiston 6th going into this game they would have been confident of winning this one, despite Witham featuring former Colchester and Oxford United professional Jamie Guy up front. His knees are why he’s no longer full-time but the know-how is still there, and it was his through ball that found Ellis Brown. He had the poise to spot Tom Wraight unmarked and the winger tapped home to give the visitors the lead, utterly against the run of play.

The formula for the rest of the game was straightforward. Leiston attacked, and Witham defended with keeper Martyn Guest unquestionably the man-of-the-match. His lot got more difficult in the second half as time after time crosses were whipped in, aided by the strong wind, often underneath his crossbar. Leiston had 14 corners to Witham’s none, with 10 of those corners coming in the second half.

The dyke had to give way eventually, and yet another cross saw Lewis Godbold stick out a desperate leg only for the ball top rebound past a wrong-footed Guest. He deserved a clean sheet, even if his team certainly didn’t.

It was in the final analysis a good advert for the Isthmian Premier even if my three passengers did immediately fall asleep again as I drove them back west. That I suppose should be expected when you’ve been watching a game after the Hogmanay celebration!