Home league match played on 14 December 2014.
Kicked off at 10:30 AM

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Chequers lost their first league game in the last four after an entertaining encounter with top-of-the-league Leighton Lions on Sunday.

John Roullier kept goal behind a back four of Rob Mardell, Tom Tracy, Chris Fagan and Michael Towler. Wayne Mardel swapped to the left wing with Barry Wilson on the right, and Neil Bishop partnered Alex Dell in the centre of midfield. Michael Ryan and Dean Hinton once again linked up in attack.

The tone was perhaps set in the opening seconds of the match as Chequers gave the ball away directly from the kick off, allowing a Lions striker to fire a shot a long way off target. The same player then went much closer moments later, as his powerful effort from the edge of the box clipped the outside of the post. The previously frozen pitch was thawing out and became extremely boggy as the Purples struggled get a foothold in the match. Dell sprayed some good long balls from midfield and Ryan worked tirelessly up front, and Chequers finally created a chance as Hinton shot off target from inside the box. Lions’ pacy striker had been causing the back line problems since the first minute, and this proved costly on the half hour as he cut inside Towler and went down seemingly under no challenge whatsoever. The referee pointed straight to the spot despite bewildered Chequers’ protests, and the penalty was struck firmly into the corner to put the league leaders ahead at 0-1. The hosts should have been level shortly after as Ryan’s throughball sent Hinton clean through on goal, but his first touch was heavy and the Lions ‘keeper gratefully gathered. Lions registered another shot on target on the stroke of half time as a free kick from 25 yards was whipped round the wall, but Roullier was able to parry to safety.

Much like the first half, Chequers began the second period chasing shadows. From the kick off Lions created a chance which missed the target, and Roullier had to get down quickly to stop an angled effort that deflected off Tracy’s boot on it’s way through. Mardell then almost notched an own goal as his aerial challenge sent the ball towards the top corner, but Roullier reacted to tip the ball wide. Somehow Lions failed to double their lead as Towler initially blocked Tracy from clearing the ball, but rescued the situation with a last-ditch goalline clearance to stop a certain goal. The reprieve was short-lived though, as Tracy’s weak backpass was picked up by a striker who steered home via Roullier’s outstretched boot to put his side 0-2 ahead on the hour. Worryingly for Chequers they then pressed the self-destruct button as the ball was lost directly from the kick off for the second time in the match, allowing a Lions striker to smash a rising effort into the net for 0-3. Player-coach Enzo Sgambati, returning from injury, replaced Towler as the home side looked for a way back into the game. They didn’t have to wait very long, as Dell’s corner dropped perfectly for Bishop to prod home to reduce the deficit at 1-3 with 20 minutes remaining. The game was stretched wide open now, and Mardell picked up a yellow card for a foul as Lions counter-attacked. A Lions player was then also cautioned for foul and abusive language following a full-blooded tackle from Bishop. Two chances to rescue the game were to come and go in the blink of an eye; first Sgambati sent a shot over the crossbar from 6 yards, and then Ryan was felled in the box to give Chequers a penalty. Tracy stepped up confidently but saw his penalty wonderfully saved by the Lions goalkeeper. As has been the case in recent games, the Purples dominated the final quarter of an hour in terms of possession but never created another big chance to haul themselves back into it.

It was a tough lesson in taking chances as Chequers more than matched the league leaders but came away with nothing to show for it.

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