Gallery: Greens Lose Out In Thriller

POOR defending at set-pieces cost Soham Town Rangers dear as they lost 4-3 at home to Leighton. Despite a spirited fight-back from Soham, a hat-trick of set-piece headers from Leighton Town captain Peter Clifford afforded the visitors three easy goals on

POOR defending at set-pieces cost Soham Town Rangers dear as they lost 4-3 at home to Leighton.

Despite a spirited fight-back from Soham, a hat-trick of set-piece headers from Leighton Town captain Peter Clifford afforded the visitors three easy goals on their way to victory over the Greens.

Soham Boss Ian Benjamin said, "The players got exactly what they deserved today and that was nothing. We conceded three goals from set-pieces and that is something I am particularly disappointed with.

"We didn't start the game right and they punished us on several occasions, it is no use putting in good performances every now-and-then the players have got to go out and do it every week."

The game started poorly for Soham who were unable to retain possession and were left wanting for a telling pass in the final third. A bad start got worse for the home side after 12 minutes when Clifford rose highest from a deep corner to net the first of his eventual hat-trick.

Spurred into action by the set-back, Soham could have levelled just two minutes later when Darren Jimson saw his glancing header tipped over the bar, the fine piece of goalkeeping went unnoticed by the referee however, who awarded a goal-kick.

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Buoyed by this chance Ian Benjamin's side seized control of the game and put together some good moves, particularly down the Leighton left where Billy Smith consistently got change out of the full-back.

Just when it seemed they had turned a corner however, Leighton struck again to double their advantage, Jamie O'Grady tapping in after Lea Jordan could only parry a fierce shot. Leighton struck another blow after 36 minutes when Clifford again waltzed into the box to nod home his second corner, making it 3-0 at half-time.

Soham undoubtedly received a blast from the Benjamin hair-dryer at the interval as after half-time Soham emerged a different team from the one which had gone in. Moves and passes which had failed in the first-half were now coming off and it took no more than ten minutes for Soham to get back into the game.

A clear handball from a Leighton defender left a well-placed referee no choice but to award the penalty which was decisively smashed home by Paul Jones. This sparked a veritable tsunami of Soham attacks as Leighton hit the panic button in defence.

Martin McNeil saw an excellent header tipped round the post minutes before Aaron Turner nodded home to send the home faithful into raptures. At 3-2 Soham had every chance of forcing an equaliser but for yet another set-piece lapse which saw captain Clifford complete his hat-trick.

To their credit though, Soham continued to plug away at Leighton and gave themselves another glimmer of hope with ten minutes remaining when Paul Jones nipped in front of a sprawling defender to make it 4-3.

Despite some gung-ho football in the dying minutes and a Jimson shot which took a layer of paint clean off of the post, Leighton held out for the win.

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