North Leigh 3, Tiverton Tn 2
After two poor away defeats, North Leigh bounced back to beat high-riding visitors Tiverton on Saturday and stay on the fringes of the Calor League Division 1 South & West play-off race.
The hosts recovered from a slow start and from the dismissal of keeper Adam McHugh to win a high-class clash, thanks to Mark Bell’s late strike.
The Millers fell behind after six minutes to a soft goal from Dan Smith, who was given plenty of time to lob the ball over McHugh from an acute angle.
Despite this setback, North Leigh powered forward and created a number of chances through Conor McDonagh, Aaron Woodley and a long-range effort from Elliot Os-borne-Ricketts, but the vital breakthrough wouldn't come At the other end, Sam Malsom twice brought good saves from McHugh in the space of a minute.
The host eventually equalised three minutes after half-time, when McDonagh picked out Woodley with a pin-point pass.
Woodley took the ball in his stride and, with defender James Richards hard on his heels, struck a fierce rising shot from 12 yards that flew past keeper Michael Searle into the top corner.
With their tails up, the Millers took the lead minutes when Bell’s hard shot struck defender Matt Villas on his chest and cannoned into the Tiverton goal net for an own goal.
But the home side’s joy was short-lived as a long pass hit McHugh on the shoulder as he advanced out of the penalty area to head the ball and he was sent off for handball.
From the resulting free-kick Ed Palmer hit an unstoppable shot past skipper Stuart Hole, who had taken over between the posts, to make it 2-2.
Although down to ten men, the hosts kept attacking and were rewarded with the winner after 79 minutes.
Palmer made a rash lunge at North Leigh midfielder Liam Malone five yards outside the Tiverton box.
McDonagh’s curving free-kick went around the defensive wall into the box where it bounced off a couple of defenders before landing at the feet of Bell, who coolly slotted the ball home from close range.
North Leigh: McHugh, Westlake, Hopkins, Malone, Gunn, Caton, Bell (Else 83), Osborne-Ricketts, McDonagh, Woodley (Walcott 88), Williams (Hole 69) Sub not used: Turk.