Evostik Southern League Premier Division
Phillips 66 Community Stadium
Tuesday 7th March 2017
Brakes narrowed the gap on leaders Chippenham as they completed a hat trick of home wins in seven days by putting Kettering Town to the sword at the Phillips 66 Community Stadium.
Paul Holleran made three changes to the side that had beaten St Neots Town on Saturday, bringing in Tom James and James Mace for the injured Connor Gudger and Joe Magunda, while Rob Thompson-Brown made the most of his restoration to the starting line up by bagging a brace, Courtney Baker-Richardson netting the other against his former club.
There were plenty of accusing fingers pointed from the visiting support after the unfortunate postponement in the original fixture with Kettering a goal to the good having performed well, but with the cause of the power problem having been identified there was never any danger of a repeat. The visitors hopes of gatecrashing the play offs looked to have been all but extinguished due to inconsistent form, and in truth they never looked like putting in anything like a repeat performance here.
Lewis Hornby tried his luck from way out on the left touchline with a swirling free kick that Tony Breeden was forced to paw over the bar in the opening minutes, but they soon found themselves behind, Thompson-Brown lashing a low first time effort into the bottom corner on nine minutes after Kettering could only half clear a long throw from Richard Taundry to the edge of the box.
Baker-Richardson came close when heading just over the bar from Callum Gittings’ curling left wing cross before he stooped to head home his seventeenth goal of the season from Thompson-Brown’s right wing corner after nineteen minutes, the ball finding the net through a crowd and inside the post.
Former Brakes midfielder Nathan Hicks fired a shot straight at Breeden, while a couple of stern defensive challenges were necessary to halt further attacks from the Poppies, for whom youngster Jack O’Connor came close with a header which flashed past the post from a corner.
Jack Edwards headed well over from Taundry’s free kick before some neat work from James on the left saw him find Ahmed Obeng inside the box, who turned superbly but let himself down with a weak shot.
A fine ball in from Thompson-Brown saw Edwards narrowly miss the target with another header, while a superb ball from Gittings up to Baker-Richardson on the right side of the penalty area saw the in form striker fire in a volley that did not miss by much from a tight angle. Obeng was then a matter of inches from a spectacular third as he manipulated the bounce of the ball from James’ left wing throw to turn and crash a fiercely struck volley just over the bar.
Leamington were clearly enjoying themselves, and while Kettering did come more into the game in the second half they were unable to trouble Breeden at all. Obeng almost flicked a shot from Baker-Richardson past keeper Liam Gooch, before he won what looked a rather soft penalty with seventeen minutes to go, Jack Kelly the man penalised as he challenged for a bouncing ball. Thompson-Brown stepped up and smashed the ball down the middle to put the game out of sight for Kettering.
Brakes are firmly rolling in the right direction once more, and they have the chance to narrow the gap at the top to a single point when they travel to Basingstoke on Saturday, with Chippenham in action at Hayes & Yeading the following day.
Leamington: Tony Breeden ©, Richard Taundry (15 Ben George, 79), Tom James, Darren Pond, Jamie Hood, James Mace, Courtney Baker-Richardson, Callum Gittings (14 Jordan Goddard, 87), Ahmed Obeng (12 Richard Gregory, 79), Jack Edwards, Rob Thompson-Brown.
Subs not used: 16 Connor Gudger, 17 Charlie Hornby.
Kettering Town: Liam Gooch, Liam Bateman, Jack Kelly, Lewis Hornby (18 Brett Solkhon, 61), Jack O’Connor, Gary Mulligan ©, Nathan Hicks (14 Liam Canavan, 61), Aaron O’Connor, Rene Howe, James Hall (15 Jorrin John, 61), James Brighton.
Subs not used: 12 Ben Baker, 16 Paul Malone.
Referee: Mr Greg Rollason
Assistant Referees: Mr Carl Clinton & Mr Dean Steatham
Brakes Man of the Match: Rob Thompson-Brown.