Evostik Southern League Premier Division
Phillips 66 Community Stadium
Tuesday 28th February 2017
Brakes moved themselves firmly back into the promotion mix as they completed a first league double over Chesham United since their Midland Division title winning campaign of 2008/2009.
Although both teams had finished the game a man light ten days previously, Paul Holleran’s side had gone against the grain by scoring the only goal after losing James Mace. The Generals were to lose experienced skipper Darren Purse to a red card in this contest after he handled a shot on the line moments before half time but they were already a goal behind at this point thanks to Courtney Baker-Richardson, who missed the chance to double his tally from the resulting penalty. Although Chesham posed considerably more threat in the second half they were unable to find a way through a stubborn Leamington defence which was superbly marshalled by Joe Magunda and Jamie Hood, and Brakes sealed the points with a first goal in Gold and Black from substitute Callum Gittings four minutes from time.
Andy Leese named Barry Hayles in his starting line up, and he was left in no doubt as to what the home support thought about his ‘hand’ in the Chesham goal scored in the abandoned fixture. The 44 year striker has notched several goals against Leamington for his various non league clubs over the years but his threat was snuffed out in this game, much to his frustration.
The Chesham defence were their own worst enemies on several occasions during the opening half, needlessly conceding several corners and putting themselves under pressure. The visiting bench were incensed when Purse was penalised for cushioning the ball back to keeper Ashlee Jones with his thigh, which was adjudged by the officials to be a backpass. It was evidently not the first time they had seen this happen this season. Richard Taundry was unable to take advantage, hammering the resulting dead ball into the defensive wall.
Magunda came oh so close to breaking his long goal drought when he flashed a header just over the bar from a corner, while Jack Edwards inadvertently headed a corner back towards his own goal, and was grateful to see Jordan Goddard head off the line to spare his blushes.
Baker-Richardson pulled the ball back for Callum Powell to lash a powerful effort into the side netting, while a fine sliding challenge from Connor Gudger denied Chesham an opportunity at the other end.
The opening goal arrived three minutes before half time, the Chesham defence scythed open as Edwards flicked a free kick from Tony Breeden into the path of Baker-Richardson inside the penalty area, the striker shaking off the attentions of Toby Little to get goal side and stab in a shot that beat Jones at his near post and found the far corner, taking him to sixteen goals for the season.
A spell of superb possession from Leamington just before half time presented an opportunity for them to double their advantage. The ball was moved around between Goddard, Ahmed Obeng and Taundry on the right until an opening was found, Obeng backheeling into the path of the former Walsall man whose curling drive produced a fine save from Jones, only for Purse to block Edwards’ piledriver from the loose ball with his arm on the line. Despite the protestations Referee Richard Gardner was in no doubt and swiftly brandished the red card, to the disgust of the former Birmingham City defender. Baker-Richardson stepped up to the penalty spot but his kick lacked the power to beat Jones, the giant stopper guessing the right way and saving down at his near post and possibly injuring himself in the process as it was his last involvement in the game. He was replaced by former MK Dons youngster Andrew McCorkell for the second half.
In truth the substitute had little to do as his team mates set about trying to haul themselves level. Hayles was inches from connecting with a free kick in front of goal, before clattering into Breeden as he attempted to clear the ball out by the touchline. It looked for a time that the Leamington skipper would be unable to continue as he hobbled around his penalty box, going down again after clearing the ball following an audacious effort from Chesham’s loan striker Phil Roberts from way out that clipped the outside of the post, but he bravely soldiered on and other than a good save from a Sam Youngs free kick he was relatively untroubled, protected well by his defence who survived several scrambles late on.
Another fine one touch move between Obeng, Baker-Richardson and Goddard saw the latter halted as he shaped to shoot by a super challenge in the area from Benji Crilley. Adam Martin lashed wildly over at the other end, while another long range Chesham effort just cleared the bar with Breeden looking stranded.
It was second half substitute Gittings who started and finished the move that led to the second goal, picking up the ball just inside the Chesham half before finding Taundry, who exchanged passes with Jack Edwards while making an intelligent run down the right which took him into the penalty area where he danced past Brett Longden and Crilley before finding Gittings in the centre just inside the box. The former Kidderminster Harriers man took a touch with his left boot before rifling past the advancing McCorkell with his right to seal a victory which pushes Leamington up into second with a further two games in hand and a seven point deficit to make up on leaders Chippenham Town. This promotion race is far from over.
Leamington: Tony Breeden ©, Richard Taundry, Connor Gudger, Darren Pond, Jamie Hood, Joe Magunda, Courtney Baker-Richardson (14 Rob Thompson-Brown, 90), Jordan Goddard, Ahmed Obeng (15 Richard Gregory, 81), Jack Edwards, Callum Powell (12 Callum Gittings, 74).
Subs not used: 16 James Mace, 17 Ben George.
Chesham United: Ashlee Jones (13 Andrew McCorkell, 46), Benji Crilley (12 Brett Longden, 54), Toby Little, Mat Mitchel-King, Darren Purse ©, Adam Martin, Dave Pearce, Sam Youngs, Barry Hayles, Phil Roberts, Stephan Hamilton-Forbes (14 David Hutton, 70).
Subs not used: 15 Joe Devaney, 16 Shaun Reece.
Referee: Mr Richard Gardner
Assistant Referees: Mr Mark Groves & Mr Peter Crowe
Brakes Man of the Match: Joe Magunda.