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Caernarfon Town 3 Leigh RMI 2

By Matt Lawton
August 4 2007

It was anything but a sunny day by the sea for Leigh RMI as they fell to their second defeat of the pre-season campaign against a rather uncompromising Caernarfon outfit amidst the blustery rain of the North Wales coast, despite previously recovering from a two goal deficit.

After visiting another part of the North Wales coast when beating Colwyn Bay 2-1 in bright sunshine last weekend, it was a rather different scene that welcomed Stuart Humphreys' side to Caernarfon, with heavy showers on a frequent basis, not to mention particularly blustery winds, once again making a mockery of the summer.

Although the visit to the Oval, and it's striking slope of several feet across the field (below), represented Leigh's final game of the pre-season before the first league game at home to Hinckley United next Saturday, the Leigh management team continued in the same vein as previous friendlies and made numerous changes throughout the game, both to the actual personnel and the system in which they were playing.

Caernarfon Hill

The home side don't begin their Welsh Premier League campaign for a number of weeks, but the Canaries looked lively in the opening stages, despite both sides struggling to come to terms with the greasy, and seemingly long, grass on the pitch after a sustained period of rainfall.

Leigh boss Stuart Humphreys had already provisionally withdrawn winger Steve Settle from the action by the time that the hosts took a deserved lead when some hesitant defending in the heart of RMI's back four allowed a speculative pass to cause mass confusion and left a Canaries striker to slide the ball past John Lamb in the RMI goal and put the Welsh side in front.

Much of Caernarfon's better play stemmed from the hard work of their midfield as they constantly pressured and harassed their Leigh counterparts to cough up possession or frustratingly misplace their passes, with strikers Mark Jackson and Kevin Rapley having to search for the ball in deeper areas than they would have originally anticipated.

Such was the hard work of the Welsh side, it came as little surprise when once again RMI were undone at the back, with Caernarfon's goal coming from a major mix-up between centre half Gavin Lee-Ellison and goalkeeper Lamb, who both watched each other leave a simple ball through and allow the Canaries to get a two goal cushion.

With the Leigh defence in disarray, that two goal deficit almost became three within minutes of the second goal when Caernarfon had a goal disallowed for offside, much to the relief of the RMI back four.

As the alarm bells starting to ring in the Leigh side, they finally began to pick their game up a little and had their first serious shot of the game when midfielder Ryan McDowell fired wide of the target after a smart lay-off from Kieran Lugsden.

On the stroke of half-time, RMI were right back in to the game when a corner was headed against the post, only for centre back Stephen Hill to squeeze the ball over the line and get his first goal in Leigh colours to cut the deficit back to one goal at the break.

In a similar manner to the way that Leigh took the game by the scruff of the neck and take control last weekend after a torrid first half at Colwyn Bay, RMI again made a bright start to the second period, with a smart short corner routine creating the space for Owen Roberts to get in a low shot at goal that was well saved, before the impressive McDowell went on a powerful run that gave him the chance to lay the ball off to Kevin Rapley, only for the ex-Chester striker to blast the ball wildly over the crossbar.

With exciting wide man Michael Warwick back in his favoured left wing position, Leigh were starting to have the majority of the chances, with Warwick's cross being flicked inches past the far post by the onrushing Mark Jackson, before Scott Willis flashed a volley wide of the target after he'd managed to create a chance for himself.

Willis was again involved in the next chance, this time going on a strong run from the half way line that allowed him to bring the supporting Warwick in to play, only for the winger to drag his shot wide of goal.

Minutes later, and RMI were finally back on level terms when Mark Jackson's header from a Warwick cross was smartly saved at close range, only for Scott Willis to put the rebound in to the net and cap his side's comeback with barely ten minutes remaining.

Just as it appeared that Leigh were to escape from Gwynedd with a draw, defeat was back on the agenda when a mammoth goal kick caught RMI's defence flat-footed, with Lamb being beaten by a terrific lob from distance after the ball had broken free.

A defeat in their final friendly of the summer wasn't exactly the script that the Leigh management team were working with, but the afternoon's workout could again prove to be a worthwhile test when Hinckley United visit Hilton Park next Saturday for the first game of the new Blue Square North season.


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