Garry Clarke tells the full story of Warrington Rylands’ 3-0 defeat at Leek Town on Saturday…

WARRINGTON Rylands did not get the Christmas present they wanted from Leek Town as the three points stayed in Staffordshire.

A much-changed Rylands team missing several players through injury and illness was further disrupted after seven minutes when stand-in manager Jack Hook – deputizing for the absent Dave McNabb and Fraser Ablett – was forced into an early change as influential midfielder Joe Coveney limped off the pitch.

The home side, entering the game in sixth place six points behind Rylands, gave a warning of their intentions in the opening minutes when Tim Grice chased a long ball into the away side’s area but his shot was well saved by Graeme McCall.

The Rylands keeper also made a good save in the 15th minute to deny Dan Trickett-Smith but was unable to prevent Leek taking the lead in the 20th minute.

Rob Stevenson broke down the left wing and slipped the ball inside to Trickett-Smith, who lifted the ball over the advancing McCall.

A hard-working, well-organised outfit, Leek seemed content to defend their lead, frustrating their visitors and not allowing them to play their normal fluid passing game before hitting on the break.

And it was from two such breaks they added to their tally in the second half.

Leek took a quick free kick on the halfway line and swiftly moved the ball forward, a rasping low drive was blocked by McCall’s feet but the rebound fell to Stevenson who blasted the ball home from the edge of the area.

In the 70th minute, another break down the right wing by Stevenson saw the Leek man drill a shot against an upright, with full back Jessy Bavanganga following up to net the rebound to wrap up a 3-0 win for the home side.

Not that Rylands hadn’t had goal scoring opportunities of their own, especially in the first half when they dominated possession.

In the opening exchanges, the lively Callum Dolan had a shot blocked and warmed the keeper’s hands with a fiercely struck angled shot which Leek keeper Sam Booth did well to push over the bar.

In the closing stages of the first half, Declan Walker twice went close with long range shots which were just off target.

Five minutes into the second half, a Rylands corner caused confusion and panic in the Leek penalty area and as it came out to the edge of the area, Andy Scarisbrick’s attempt to get the ball back into the danger area is thwarted by a defender’s hand.

Dolan’s free kick bit the underside of the crossbar and from the rebound, Booth made a great save to keep out Charlie Doyle’s shot. The ball is once again propelled goal wards but is scrambled off the line by frantic defenders.

Further incursions into the Leek penalty area were limited as the home side controlled the game although in the closing minutes, Booth pulled off a good save to deny Scarisbrick a late consolation.