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Colwyn Bay 1 Leigh RMI 2

By Matt Lawton
July 28 2007

A much-improved second half performance saw Leigh RMI claim their first win of the pre-season campaign, with Mark Jackson's equaliser and a late winner from Steve Settle sealing victory against their Unibond League opponents on the picturesque North Wales coast.

On a bright day by the sea, it was the hosts that were quickest out of the blocks, and were indeed a goal to the good after just six minutes when a free kick, needlessly given away for handball, was duly dispatched past the right hand of the despairing John Lamb in the RMI goal.

With Kevin Rapley missing the game after also being absent from the side that drew 1-1 at Cammell Laird on Wednesday, Leigh boss Stuart Humphreys again found himself pairing Dan Owen and Mark Jackson in attack, while Andy Heald was recalled to the RMI's left flank, with Michael Warwick starting on the substitutes bench.

With Stuart Whittaker missing from the starting line up for the first time since his return to the club earlier this month, Steve Settle was handed a place on the right hand side of the Leigh midfield, but he struggled to get in to the game and was replaced early on by the more energetic Kieran Lugsden as RMI found themselves put under pressure by an enterprising Colwyn Bay side that showed enough quality in their flowing attacking play to suggest that they will be one of the Unibond League's front-runners during the coming season, with the Seagulls retaining their 1-0 lead at the break.

After a rather dismal first half performance, RMI needed an early response to get themselves back in to the game, and they achieved that almost immediately when a superb Owen Roberts cross was clinically finished by Mark Jackson to bring his side level within seconds of the restart.

With a little reorganisation in the RMI midfield that saw Scott Willis leave the pitch and Andy Heald move in to the centre of the park to accomodate for substitute Michael Warwick, Leigh started to find themselves enjoying a lot more possession and certainly far more chances than in the first half, with Warwick and Roberts combining particularly well down the left flank, while Kieran Lugsden created RMI's next chance with a terrific run down the right wing that ended with his cross being volleyed inches over the crossbar by midfielder Ryan McDowell.

Again, Warwick and Roberts found themselves at the heart of an RMI attack when they combined to create the space for another Roberts cross that was, on this occasion, met by McDowell who did the hard part in dribbling around the stranded goalkeeper, only to have his goalbound shot cleared off the Bay line by a retreating defender.

As the second half wore on, Leigh began to enjoy far more possession than their opponents with Scott Willis, returning to the field from the bench, providing a delightful through ball that was curled wide of the target by Steve Settle, another player returning to the game although this time heading the Leigh attack instead of playing in midfield.

The former Atherton LR may not have hit the target on that occasion, but he made up for it not long afterwards when a Lugsden cross was deflected in to his path, leaving Settle to slot the past to the right of the goalkeeper and clinch the first victory of the summer for the travelling Railwaymen.

Leigh's pre-season journey continues on Thursday evening with the short trip down Atherleigh Way to face North West Counties neighbours Daisy Hill, before another trip to North Wales next Saturday to face League of Wales outfit Caernarfon Town.


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