Oakham United weather the storm to beat Rushden & Higham

Action from Cottesmore Amateurs v Oakham United. Photo: John Evely EMN-150212-101857001
Action from Cottesmore Amateurs v Oakham United. Photo: John Evely EMN-150212-101857001
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Oakham United continued their run of good form with a 3-1 victory over Rushen & Higham United in the UCL Division One on Saturday.

Having endured a torrid November which saw the Tractor Boys lose four games in a row to dent their challenge at the top of the table the Rutland side have really turned things around of late, recording their third straight victory at the weekend and revenging a 2-0 loss at Lankies back in October.

However it was the visitors to Sterling Meadows who started the better when Jake Reynolds went close for Rushden.

Oakham did not learn from the warning and they were behind in just the fifth minute.

The ball was played out to the right flank for Lewis O’Dell to cross in and Jon Tite was in the right spot to convert.

But for a good save from Oakham keeper Simon Dalton the hosts could well have been 2-0 down when Craig Harrower tested him and then Reynolds skied the parried ball over the bar.

Ben Easson was unlucky not to have levelled the scores after a fine bit of play saw him beat a couple of defenders and strike a shot which had Lankies keeper Luke Shipp beaten but Aaron Cormack was on the line to clear the ball.

However midway through the first half Dan Jenkins, who has been one of Oakham’s outstanding performers this season, delivered a cross which caught Shipp out and Seb Archer-Fern put the ball away.

Dalton, who has also been a steady force this season, had a moment to forget when one of his throw outs was intercepted by Reynolds who forced the keeper into a full length stop to save his blushes.

Easson was looking dangerous and forced another save out of Shipp, however the goal on the half hour mark came from a familiar source - Lewis Leckie.

The Lankies defence misjudged a bouncing ball in the middle of the park and that was all the advantage Leckie needed, racing clear to score his 17th UCL Division One goal of the year and 22nd in all competitions despite struggling with an injury for part of the season. However ‘The Canonball’, a nick name picked up after breaking the net with a shot last week, has some way to go if he is to catch the league’s leading scorers from Peterborough Sports.

Avelino Vieira has struck an impressive 31 goals this season to take top spot on the goal scoring charts ahead of Karl Gibbs on 26 in second spot. However it should be noted both men are currently scoring at a rate of a goal a game whereas Leckie is scoring at better than a goal a game in a side which has scored 37 goals fewer in the league overall.

After taking the lead Oakham had to batten down the hatches before the break as the visitors went close on several occasions.

Things did not calm down early in the second half. Leckie was close to extending Oakham’s lead but Shipp did well to close down his space and make a save.

In the 51st minute calamity struck for United when centre back Matt Holland fouled Reynolds in the box to concede a penalty. Up stepped O’Dell but Dalton showed his worth with a superb save which tipped the momentum of the match in Oakham’s favour.

The Tractor Boys went close through a Gav Cooke header over the bar but just short of the hour mark Richard Nelson showed him how it should be done, heading in a Stu Lambie free kick.

Leckie went close to adding to his personal tally and substitute Sven Hart had a couple of late chances to add some gloss to the scoreline but in the end Oakham had to make do with a 3-1 scoreline to take them up to fifth in the league.

Attention turns to the Hinchingbrooke Cup now where Oakham travel to Yaxley tomorrow night in the quarter-finals, kick off 7.45pm.

Oakham: Simon Dalton, Dan Jenkins, Kris Kefford, Richard Nelson, Gav Cooke, Matty Holland, Stewart Lambie (Ewan Crawford), Adam Rothery, Lewis Leckie, Ben Easson (Sven Hart), Seb Archer-Fern (Tom Caldicott).

Rushden & Higham: Luke Shipp, Alex Paterson, Aaron Cormack, Jordan Pendered, Sam Birtwistle, Ben Lord (Jack Dyson), Lewis O’Dell, Jory Mann, Jake Reynolds, Craig Harrower, Jon Tite.