Southern League South, West Division

Shortwood United 2

North Leigh 1

YET another comeback win was sealed in the second-half by Shortwood, though in truth Wood were the dominant force for the best part of an hour, writes Harry Ash.

Boss Paul Meredith said: “We took a while to get going today and it is understandable to an extent because we haven’t played in a few weeks. The first goal against us was a poor one to concede as we just switched off, but credit to the boys in the second half, they turned it around in testing conditions and were worthy winners.”

North Leigh started brightly, with Dan James’ effort from a tight angle forcing George Burton to tip the ball onto the bar and over. Shortwood’s slow start was compounded in the twenty-fifth minute when a low cross from Piers McGlynn was pounced upon by Roger James, who poked the ball through the legs of Burton to give North Leigh the lead.

The second half can be defined by two Shortwood substitutions; the first came at half-time, with Bakare Aliu being replaced by Liam Meredith and signalling a switch to three at the back, and the second coming almost twenty minutes into the half, as Shortwood’s most dangerous player in the first half, Will Hawes, came off for Harry Burns. In the sixty-fifth minute, seconds after the introduction of Burns, Shortwood equalised. Burns, with his first touches of the match, picked the ball up in the centre and found Liam Meredith on the right-hand side of the box, who controlled before blasting the ball in off the bar at the near post. Four minutes later, Burton produced an impressive save to deny Michael Hopkins from range, before a fallow ten minutes or so was broken by the third red card of the season for Alex Kibble. He picked up his first booking with thirteen minutes to play, for what appeared to be for dissent, before, just two minutes later, he was adjudged to have dived after he overran the ball about twenty-five yards from goal.

In the final minute of normal time, Wood won a free-kick about thirty yards from goal, left of centre. Liam Meredith whipped it into a dangerous area, allowing his brother, Ryan, to send a looping header into the net, with the help of a deflection. The win meant that Shortwood climbed above North Leigh into seventeenth place.

Shortwood: George Burton, Bakare Aliu (Liam Meredith 46’), Tristan Haswell, Ryan Meredith, Ryan Thwaite, Alex Kibble, Jack Freeman, Joe White (Ben Prictor 82’), Jordan Morris, Nick Humphreys (C), Will Hawes (Harry Burns 64’).