Vanarama National League North
Tuesday 15th August 2017
A battling hard working display yielded nothing for Brakes as they went down to a third successive National League North defeat in Worcestershire against Kidderminster Harriers.
Leamington’s last visit to Aggborough was over 34 years ago, - January 22nd 1983. While Harriers did the league double over Graham Allner’s side that season, the giant championship shield came to rest at the Windmill Ground at the end of it. Any Brakes fan who knows their history will not need reminding of what unfolded after that, but the fortunes of the two clubs went in completely opposite directions from thereon in, and there was no bigger reflection of that than the plush surroundings of Aggborough stadium.
Brakes were certainly not overawed in the opening stages however, and the ball deflected off Jamie Hood and wide from Joe Magunda’s blocked shot following the first corner of the game. This was swiftly followed by Ahmed Obeng driving at the Harriers defence from the right, his shot also blocked away from goal.
Similar to the 1980’s, there are plenty of connections between either club in the present day, and Brakes lined up with half a dozen players who had appeared in a Kidderminster shirt at one time or another, while our former skipper Liam Daly lined up in defence and former loanee Sam Austin was named among the substitutes. It was Daly who registered Harriers’ first effort on goal, glancing a header just over the bar from James McQuilkin’s left wing corner. Tony Breeden was then forced to punch away a goalbound effort, Connor Gudger heading the follow up away from goal.
Colby Bishop responded for Leamington, cutting in from the left and sending a low shot into the arms of Brandon Hall. Dan Bradley then curled the ball over the roof of the terrace for the hosts.
Harriers were looking to use the wings to get the ball into the box wherever possible, and Jamie Hood and Richard Taundry were being made to work very hard by Emmanuel Sonupe and Elton Ngwatala in particular. Skipper Tyrone Williams looked to have a good chance to open the scoring at the near post, but appeared to balloon his shot into the air, before Sonupe ran at Hood and delivered an inviting ball right across the goalmouth. Fortunately for Leamington there was nobody in red and white to apply the finishing touch. Ngwatala then sent a half volley flashing just wide after the ball had ricocheted around just outside the Leamington penalty area.
Joe Ironside was denied by a firm block from Hood as Kidderminster mixed it up with a long ball out of defence, but while Leamington were having to work increasingly hard as the Harriers attacks stacked up, they were also looking threatening, Bishop and Obeng linking up well down the right for the latter to see a shot blocked. Taundry and Obeng then worked the ball well down the same wing, but there was nobody in blue to attack a good cut back from the Brakes striker.
The home side had their best chance of the half when another slick passing move saw Ironside play in Sonupe, who attempted to clip the ball over Breeden, the former Harriers stopper getting something on it to concede a corner.
Ironside almost bundled the ball home in the last attacking move of the half, but was denied by a fine piece of improvisation from Hood as he almost nonchalantly flicked out a heel to clear the danger.
Breeden watched an early second half effort from Ngwatala sail past the post, but there was more of the patient build up play from the hosts, with Brakes doing their utmost to stand firm and frustrate. Harriers continued to up the ante however as they tried to pass their way through, with Leamington barely able to get out of their own half in the opening ten minutes of the restart.
The pressure told with 64 minutes played as substitute Milan Butterfield was rather harshly penalised for sticking a boot out to challenge Sonupe, who certainly made the most of it. Ironside stepped up to send Breeden the wrong way from the penalty spot.
Leamington began to come out of their shell a little now with the game beginning to slip away from them, and Hall was forced into his first action of the half when he punched away a corner from the left.
Liam Canavan was introduced for his debut with around 15 minutes to play, replacing Callum Gittings who received warm applause from the home fans. Canavan wasted little time getting involved, winning a crunching challenge on halfway before Obeng received a booking for a slightly late one.
Daly looked furious with himself for not beating Breeden with a close range header from McQuilkin’s corner, while Gudger’s well struck free kick had Hall arching his back to push the ball over the bar, Hood heading well over from the resulting corner.
Daly went into the book for a lunging challenge on Brakes substitute Kurtis Revan as Leamington pushed for a late leveller, Taundry’s free kick from the left dropping agonisingly past the far post. Butterfield’s first time volley from a half clearance was then blocked behind for a corner.
Kidderminster then sealed the game in stoppage time with a superb goal from Sonupe. With Breeden racing back having pushed up for a corner. Picking the ball up just yards inside the Leamington half, the diminutive midfielder looked up and curled a delightful effort into the far corner of the net from fully 40 yards.
Paul Holleran was left to reflect that his side's’ performances in the first ten days of the season have maybe not gained the rewards they deserved. ‘Kidderminster will be one of the toughest away fixtures we will have this season. I thought we contained them really well for long periods, and we looked a threat on the break. They were always going to have more of the ball than us but we were doing ok and then sadly we’ve made a mistake. We’ve then had a right good go at them for ten minutes, the keeper’s pulled off a great save and we’ve had a stonewall penalty (when Canavan was brought down right on the edge of the area) which sadly wasn’t given, and we got caught on the break at the end.’
Attendance: 1,465 (101 Leamington)
Kidderminster Harriers: Brandon Hall, Tyrone Williams ©, Joel Taylor, Declan Weeks, Liam Daly, Kennedy Digie, Emmanuel Sonupe (15 Sam Austin, 90+), James McQuilkin, Joe Ironside, Elton Ngwatala (17 Junior Joachim 60), Dan Bradley (12 Andre Brown, 75).
Subs not used: 14 Josh Webb, 16 Cieron Keane.
Leamington: Tony Breeden ©, Richard Taundry, Connor Gudger, Joe Clarke, Jamie Hood, Joe Magunda, Ahmed Obeng, Junior English, (14 Kurtis Revan, 81) Colby Bishop, Callum Gittings (16 Liam Canavan, 76), Rob Thompson-Brown (12 Milan Butterfield, 56).
Subs not used: 15 Stefan Moore, 17 Tom James.
Referee: Mr Thomas Kirk
Assistant Referees: Mr Greg Rollason & Mr Richie Watkins
Brakes Man of the Match: Jamie Hood.