It’s a Long Way to Leiston… on a Tuesday Night!

by Peter Scherer

Our hosts on Tuesday night were in the play-offs last season, but currently lie ninth in the table, after two successive wins had followed a 0-6 at Needham Market earlier this month. But last Saturday they drew 2-2 at home to Alvechurch.

It was a 5-0 win to Sports when they visited us in September, but both sides have had had erratic success since the New Year.

Following last Saturday’s 41- home win, Mickleover will be hoping to keep the form going into the final 10 games of the season and secure that valuable play-off place.

Darren Eadie and Chris Wigger are joint managers. Eadie was a former Leicester City and Norwich midfielder and has been in charge since March 2020.

Sam Donkin is first choice goalkeeper, he was signed from Biggleswade in November 2019, having previously played for Whitehawk and Stamford. He made his 100th appearance for our hosts last season.

But last Saturday Donkin’s run of 119 consecutive games ended due to injury and he was replaced by Billy Johnson, signed from Kettering a few days earlier.

Johnson went to Kettering Braintree pre-season. A former Norwich City Junior, he was loaned to Lowestoft and Braintree, before a permanent move to Stevenage on his release. He has returned to Braintree on numerous occasions, after spells at Gloucester City and this is his second spell at Leiston too.

Club Captain and left back Seb Dunbar came from Stowmarket in July 2021. He was an Ipswich Town Junior and also played for Maldon/Tiptree, Bishop Stortford and Bury Town. It’s his third spell at Leiston.

Centre back Adam Bailey-Dennis has 13 years experience under his belt. He started at Aveley, before moving to Bury Town. His path then took him via  Bromley, Bishop Stortford, Hemel and Chelmsford, before joining our visitors in October 2020.

Midfielder Ryan Jarvis has England caps as an under 16, 17 and 19. He started at Norwich City too and was loaned to Colchester, Leyton Orient, Kilmarnock and Notts County, before joining Orient on his release.

After many more moves he settled back in East Anglia with Lowestoft in 2015. Then after a move to Kings Lynn he returned to Lowestoft, from where Leiston signed him in July 2022. He played in every division of the football league and the Scottish Premier, with well over 300 appearances.

Another midfielder and another former Norwich junior, Zach Dronfield came from Hampton & Richmond in July 2022. He had previously been at Wealdstone.

Joe Marsden is mainly an attacking midfielder who is in his second season with our visitors, since arriving from Needham Market. He was previously at Lowestoft Town and came back to Leiston in June 2021 after three years away, and passed his 100th club appearance milestone last season too.

Jamaican International striker Jamar Loza is a former Norwich City youngster, he had loans at Coventry City, Orient, Southend, Yeovil Town and Stevenage, before being released in 2016, with 30 league appearances under his belt spread over all four divisions.

His next club was Maidstone, before being loaned to Woking. Billericay, Chelmsford, Kings Lynn, Barnet and Cheshunt followed, before he arrived at Leiston pre-season.

Centre back Chris Casement has represented Northern Ireland at Under 19,19,20,21 and Full International level. A massively experienced player who started at Ipswich and made 242 Premiership appearances and played in the Championship, League two and Champions League.

He was loaned to Millwall, Hamilton Academicals and Wycombe Wanderers, before a permanent move to Dundee. After a loan at Linfield in Northern Ireland, he joined them on a permanent basis. He also played for Portadown before returning to East Anglia with Stowmarket, from where he joined our hosts pre-season.

Midfielder Ross Crane played for Colchester Utd and AFC Sudbury, before being picked up by Ipswich Town. Loans at Concord Rangers and Bury Town followed, before a loan at Needham Market became permanent. He is another pre-season signing for Leiston.

Jack Manly, Michael Lavin and Ashley Boatswain are on loan from Ipswich, Manly is a young midfielder staying to the end of the season, while Boatswain is a striker on loan for a month, who has already found the back of the net. Lavin is a right back and due to see the season out with our hosts too.

Fellow midfielder Cameron Rayworth and striker Charlie Atkin are home produced players, who have come through the ranks a d joined the first team squad earlier this season.

Right back Eddie Jackson is a former Norwich City Junior and another pre-season signing.

Albie Armin was an Ipswich junior centre back, who came Leiston after his release last July. He had previously been loaned to Braintree.

Midfielder George Quantrell returned from Braintree in November, having only left four months, after an initial two year stay. He’s an ex Norwich City Junior too and has also played for Dereham Town and Stowmarket.

Midfielder Mitchell Jackson, striker Joe McNeil, defender Ben Batho and goalkeeper Marcus Mehew have all come through Leiston’s own scheme to join the first team recently.

Kick off is at 7.45 and although it’s a four hour plus journey each way, any support would be much appreciated.

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