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Leigh RMI 3 Farnborough Town 2

Farnborough Town FC

By Matt Lawton
March 5 2003

Phil Salt scored a late goal to clinch an impressive victory for Leigh RMI against FA Cup giankillers Farnborough Town in a vital Conference game at Hilton Park.

Leigh RMI started the game like a house on fire, dominating the early proceedings with a barrage of attacks on Tony Pennock in the Farnborough goal. On loan striker Neil Campbell squandered a couple of chances along with fellow striker Keith Scott and midfielders Ian Monk and Phil Salt as The Railwaymen made a great start to a vital Conference game.

RMI got their just desserts for their attacking play when after several early chances, impressive striker Keith Scott scored with a header past busy former Yeovil Town goalkeeper Pennock with his first ever goal in a Leigh RMI shirt, a fortnight after signing for 3,000 from Conference rivals Scarborough.

Leigh continued to pile the pressure after taking the lead and former Oldham Athletic midfielder Phil Salt went close with a twenty five yard drive which flew past Pennock's left-hand post.

However, as the first half wore on, the visitors came in to the game more and more and could've equalised when star striker Rocky Baptiste fired against the side netting and also forced a superb save from RMI goalkeeper Stuart Coburn, who had been a virtual spectator for the early part of the first half.

Farnborough could've equalised several times if it wasn't for wasteful finishing and once again superb goalkeeping from Coburn, who is sure to attract the attention of bigger clubs during the pre-season break. RMI were very pleased to hear the half time whistle as it seemed that Town were building up a head of steam and the fifteen minute break would surely dampen their desperation.

The second half started with much the same pattern as the first, with RMI attacking from the outset but then Farnborough coming back into the game. It seemed only a matter of time until Farnborough, who played away against Premiership champions Arsenal in the FA Cup this season before manager and chairman Graham Westley departed for Conference rivals Stevenage along with half of his squad, would equalise. That eventually happen just past the hour mark when former Crystal Palace captain Geoff Pitcher scored a sublime thirty yard free kick to finally get the ball past the determined Coburn.

It looked as though Farnborough would then come even further back in to the game and maybe even sneak a winning goal but to their credit Leigh carried on pressuring the Town goal and deservedly took the lead again when central defender Wayne Maden's front post header from a corner beat Pennock.

After Maden's goal, Leigh looked on the crest of a wave and played with plenty of confidence. They certainly didn't look to be a Conference side as they defied the bobbly pitch with some thrilling passing moves to carve up the Farnborough defence time and again.

Leigh RMI then looked to have tied up the game when Salt succeeded where he had failed in the first half and drove home an excellent twenty five yarder to put RMI in to a commanding 3-1 lead with only twelve minutes remaining.

It looked as though RMI would stroll home but as is often the case with Leigh they almost threw away the three points as they allowed Farnborough to pull a goal back through Chris Piper with a minute remaining. They certainly gave the RMI faithful a few anxious moments but they held on for a hugely vital three points which were certainly needed after news filtered through of relegation rivals Nuneaton also picking up three points with a 3-2 home victory.

RMI take on play-off hopefuls Scarborough at Hilton Park on Saturday and will want to continue their recent good form where they have picked up ten points from a possible haul of twelve points from their past three games.

Unofficial RMI Online Man of the Match: Midfielder Phil Salt had one of his better games in an RMI shirt and goalkeeper Stuart Coburn was his usual impressively brilliant self. However, my man of match award goes to home debutant Keith Scott who certainly endeared himself to the Hilton Park faithful with a hard working performance.

Leigh RMI: Coburn, Durkin, Lancaster, Maden, Williams, Monk, Salt, Ford, Heald, Keith Scott, Campbell. Subs: Courtney, Whitehead, Harrison, Whittaker, Bates.

Farnborough: Pennock, Chris Piper, Reeks, Annon, Taggart, Lenny Piper, Pitcher, Patterson, Butterworth, Baptiste, Green. Subs: Osborn, Harkness, Potter, Ayres.

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