KEVIN Leadbetter kept his cool to fire Skelmersdale United into the Evo-Stik Premier Division play-off elite at the West Lancashire College Stadium.
With the scores tied at 2-2 with only two minutes to play, Leadbetter thumped a penalty kick into the Stafford net to give Skelmersdale victory and to crown a performance that culminated in him picking up the match sponsors The Highwayman Man of the Match award after the game.
The victory continues Skelmersdale’s wonderful start to life in the higher division which has seen them bag 11 points from the opening six games and has them looking at another probable promotion challenge.
Skelmersdale began to make inroads just before the 30 minute mark, Ashley Dunn having a shot saved by Stafford goalkeeper Jon Brain after the midfielder forced Darren Bullock into an error.
A couple of minutes later Skelmersdale struck. Kenny Strickland’s ball into the Stafford area created chaos, Brain made a save and the ball broke loose, eventually it fell to Adam Morning who slotted from six yards.
Skelmersdale doubled their advantage with a devastating move in the 34th minute. Joe Holt carried the ball forward then released Leadbetter at pace down the right, Leadbetter looked up saw Nick Rogan making ground at the far post and put a precise cross onto the centre-forward’s head, Rogan putting the ball inside the far post.
Stafford came storming back and three minutes into the second-half they struck through Michael Lennon.
A Leadbetter save brought about the Stafford equaliser, as they counterattacked with Fabrice Kasiama a player who had looked dangerous all night, confirmed the theory with an excellent finish to make it 2-2.
Skelmersdale found it hard work to create a chance to re-take the lead and it was not until the 88th minute that they succeeded. Leadbetter stepped up and bulleted the a penalty kick into the net, to give Skelmersdale three points that were very hard earned.
l SKLELMERSDALE UNITED: Hibbert, Strickland ©, Holden, Burton, Wylie, Wright (McIntosh, 64), Dunn, Rogan (Deane, 79), Leadbetter, Morning (Burnett, 79) Subs (not used) Hardwick, Paxton.