St Leonard Social 2-4 BBFC
On a day when the weather resembled mid-August rather than mid-April, Battle Baptists came through choppy waters to beat St Leonards Social at Tilekiln and will be relieved to have landed another win in their precarious struggle to land the Premiership title.
All started smoothly for the Battle front side when Ollie Norris thrashed home his first goal of the season to take the lead in the first quarter, this after an even start to the game in which the home team competed equally, putting pressure on the Battle back four. Josh Pickering torpedoed a good chance over the bar and an Adam Staplehurst header failed to hit the target as Social soaked up some pressure.
Battle skipper Ollie Jeffs set a fine example of commitment, refusing to allow sickness to stop him from playing, whilst early injuries to Trystan Mayhew and Tom Saunders hampered the Baptists effectiveness as the two players played on through gritted teeth.
As the pace of Norris tormented the home team on the right, Medica Man-of-the-Match Kieran Mayhew found extra reserves of energy in the sapping heat to cover every inch of the pitch, but Battle were clearly off colour and under-par.
Taking advantage, St Leonards showed great determination and endeavour. Ex-Battle player Greg Bennett flashed a good opportunity wide of the Baptists’ post before the Baptist keeper Jake Rudwick made a fabulous save to tip a goal-bound shot around the post. Social earned a deserved equaliser when their striker broke out of defence and was fouled on the edge of Battle’s area. Allan McMinigal struck home the free kick to level the scores.
Buoyed by the equaliser, St Leonards lifted their efforts and took the lead shortly before the break, surviving a defensive corner and countering to score through McMinigal again.
Contemplating the demise of their title ambitions, Battle came out again with a steely resilience and began to gain a foothold in the heat. Joe Brister played an important part, stretching the home side wide with intelligent wing play.
St Leonards worked hard to extend their lead, and had a goal disallowed for offside but as the game entered its final quarter, the reliable right boot of striker Josh Pickering hit the target as he ran into the right channel and finished clinically.
When Trystan Mayhew finally retired from the game, his replacement Josh Reuter added a further attacking threat as the home team started to wilt. Battle’s third found its way through a pair of legs and deflected off the keeper from a Dean Boyd shot. As Battle’s top-scorer benefitted from increasing space in the latter stages, Boyd netted again in the final moments to secure all three points.