STOURBRIDGE 4 LEISTON 0
A hat-trick from Luke Benbow in the space of eleven second-half minutes helped the Glassboys complete a league double over Leiston with Greg Mills adding a fourth goal in stoppage time to put the icing on the cake.
The Stourbridge side showed four changes from the one beaten at Tamworth a week earlier. Luke Benbow returned from injury to take his place back in the starting line-up while Brad Birch and Stuart Pierpoint were selected along with recent signing George Forsyth who was handed his first start. Kaiman Anderson, Leon Broadhurst and Aaron Hayden were named amongst the substitutes while Robert Thompson-Brown missed the game through injury.
On a windy and increasingly overcast March afternoon, the first-time visitors from East Suffolk showed up better in the opening exchanges before the home side began to work themselves into the match and sporadically threaten the Leiston goal. In the 7th minute Birch and Benbow combined to find Mills on the left-hand side of the box and he lifted the ball across into the middle where Benbow glanced a header wide. Five minutes later Callum Powell was half-stopped in his tracks with the ball rolling to Benbow who shot over from 25 yards out.
Leiston replied with Matt Blake digging out a low 20-yard shot that provided a comfortable save for James Wren before the home side were forced into a change on 23 minutes when Darryl Westlake landed awkwardly and hurt his ankle with Aris Christophorou taking his place as a like for like swap.
In the 27th minute Aaron Forde pounced on a loose header from Joe Jefford and drove at the Leiston defence before making room for a low shot that was parried by Marcus Garnham away to his left, but shortly afterwards the Stour midfielder talked his way into the referee’s notebook.
Stourbridge were soon back on the attack with Benbow touching a pass back into the path of Powell and he wriggled space to get away a low shot that ran harmlessly wide and then Mills swung the ball over from the left and Birch failed to capitalise as his skewed header flew off-target.
The hosts continued to enjoy more of the possession in the lead-up to half-time, but their approach play lacked zip and Leiston remained a threat on the counter as shown a minute before the interval when Dominic Docherty broke down the left and delivered in a dangerous low ball into the near post area that had to be cleared for a corner.
Half-time Stourbridge 0 Leiston 0
Leiston were first to show after the re-start with Kyle Hammond firing off-target from the right-hand side of the box before half-time substitute William Davies produced a dribble that had both Pierpoint and McCone backing off before he hit a shot that Wren saved down low to his left.
However, the ‘Benbow show’ began in earnest with 53 minutes gone after Jordaan Brown was brought down around 25 yards from goal. The Stourbridge striker conjured up another of his trademark free-kicks that clear the wall before dipping on the keeper to find the bottom corner and break the deadlock and after that the home side did not look back. Seven minutes later Seb Dunbar was adjudged to have handled a right-wing cross from Powell inside the area and Benbow stepped up to successfully convert the resulting spot-kick, rolling the ball one way as the keeper dived in the other direction to double the lead.
Benbow completed his hat-trick in the 63rd minute as he applied the finishing touches to a neatly crafted goal with Mills supplying the low ball across and Forde laying it back for Benbow to take on a couple of defenders on the edge of the area before striking a low shot home beyond the reach of Garnham.
Leiston continued to apply themselves though and on 65th minutes Hammond tried to catch out the home defence with a smart free-kick into the run of Christy Finch across the near post, but although Finch got a touch, Wren was able to safely collect.
A few minutes later Forsyth blotted his copybook with a caution on his debut before Stourbridge pressed again on 70 minutes as a determined run forward with the ball by McCone had the Leiston defence on the back-foot before Garnham managed to save at his feet.
Kaiman Anderson was introduced for Benbow after 72 minutes and he left the field to huge applause in appreciation of his second-half endeavours.
Stourbridge maintained the upper hand. In the 78th minute Powell combined with Mills before drilling in a low centre, but nobody had read the situation and the opportunity was gone, however Powell was soon back on the ball and he tried to place a 20-yard low shot beyond Garnham, but the visiting keeper was equal to his effort.
Leiston hit back with Hammond letting fly with a decent shot that Wren gathered at the second attempt and moments later Dunbar sent in a dangerous low cross from the left that squirmed past Wren and out for a corner.
Leon Broadhurst replaced Forde after 83 minutes for the home side’s third and final change of the afternoon.
Forsyth released Powell away through the right channel area and he burst forward but could only hit his rising shot into the side-netting.
Leiston ended the game with ten men after Jefford picked up a second booking in stoppage time when conceding a free-kick just outside the box. With Benbow no longer on the field, Mills took on the responsibility and this time he curled the ball round the end of the wall and inside Garnham’s left-hand upright to make it 4 – 0 and secure the Glassboys biggest home win of the campaign.
Stourbridge – Wren, Westlake, Brown, McCone, Pierpoint, Forde, Powell, Birch, Benbow, Forsyth, Mills
Subs – Christophorou (for Westlake 23 mins), Anderson (for Benbow 72 mins), Broadhurst (for Forde 83 mins), Hayden, Maher (not used)
Booked – Forde, Forsyth
Attendance – 619
Updated 16:19 - 8 Mar 2019 by Nigel Gregg