Vanarama National League North
LDJ Solicitors Stadium
Saturday 26th August 2017
This is one game that will not live long in the memory for Brakes fans as they watched their team capitulate in North Warwickshire against Nuneaton Town, Paul Holleran keeping his players in the dressing room for some time after the final whistle as they discussed what went wrong.
Three goals inside the opening half an hour meant that the August Bank Holiday weekend got off to the worst possible start for Leamington, and while they stemmed the tide in the second half most of it was played with ten men, Jamie Hood shown a straight red card after a rather strange altercation following an offside decision.
The frequency of the two sides’ meetings over the last 40 years or so has never allowed a rivalry to build up, and there was never really a local derby feel to this contest from the first whistle.
In an energetic start to proceedings Alex Henshall found the side netting with a powerful low drive for Boro’, while Hood was inches from connecting with a flicked on corner inside the six yard box. Henshall then drew a save from Tony Breeden, who just managed to reclaim the ball as Ashley Chambers attempted to snaffle up the rebound.
The manner in which Jordan Nicholson was allowed to twist and turn before rifling a low drive into the net from just outside the box on nine minutes was alarming. It appeared all too easy for him, and unfortunately set the tone for the majority of the afternoon.
Brady Hickey lifted a shot over Breeden and onto the roof of the net before Kurtis Revan, whose performance was one of few bright spots for Leamington, powered in a blistering drive that was helped over the bar by a flying save from Dean Lyness.
Henshall grabbed the goal his performance deserved on twenty minutes and quite a strike it was too, driving into acres of space on the left before thundering a shot across Breeden into the far corner.
Before half an hour had passed it was 3-0, Nicholson played in to slide the ball under the dive of Breeden. Liam Canavan drove a free kick inches past the post as Leamington tried in vain to respond.
Hood directed a header straight at Lyness from a corner early in the second half, but his afternoon came to an abrupt end after a bizarre flashpoint by the Leamington goal. The red card was shown but the provocation for it was seemingly missed by the men in charge.
The second half was certainly not as fierce as the first in terms of play, but with the game already won Nuneaton did not need to maintain their tempo. Leamington probably had their best spell after losing a man, Revan teeing up Joe Clarke for a rasping first time drive that was turned round the post by the smart reactions of Lyness. Substitute Milan Butterfield saw his header from the corner cleared off the line by Courtney Wildin.
There was to be no consolation for Brakes in this contest though, and Boro’ added a fine fourth through Brady Hickey, who let fly from way out on the right and found the top corner with Breeden able to do no more than get a hand to it on its way in.
Emerging from the dressing room some time after the final whistle, Paul Holleran was honest in his assessment of the game. ‘With the locality of the game, you’d expect to see two teams going at it but sadly that didn’t happen. For half an hour in the first period we looked like a side from Step 5, nevermind Step 2.
‘We’re well aware of the challenges stepping up to this level, but we’re making it very difficult for ourselves because we’re getting away from what we’re good at. Although we’ve been competitive in previous games, today we got what we deserved. I’ve reminded the players of the opportunity they have. My changing room is full of players that have been let go from this level. That’s what we work with, and when they start coming away from the basics of football, which is competing, working, grafting, good discipline, good shape, then we’ll have many an afternoon like that.’
*Injury update from Pete Denham: Ahmed Obeng was not risked as he is struggling with an ankle problem. Callum Gittings and Junior English came through the game ok and should be fine for Monday; Liam Canavan is ok after making his first start, and James Mace may be available for Monday.
Nuneaton Town: Dean Lyness, Luke Trotman, Courtney Wildin, Brad Gascoigne, Niall Heaton (15 Jon Ashton 72), Ryan Beswick ©, Alex Henshall (16 Callum Ball 70), Tom Elliott (14 Michael Tweed 78), Ashley Chambers, Brady Hickey, Jordan Nicholson.
Subs not used: 12 Luther Wildin, 13 Elliot Taylor.
Leamington: Tony Breeden ©, Richard Taundry, Connor Gudger, Joe Clarke, Jamie Hood, Joe Magunda, Kurtis Revan, Junior English, Colby Bishop, (12 Stefan Moore, 72), Liam Canavan (14 Callum Gittings, 46), Rob Thompson-Brown (15 Milan Butterfield, 63).
Subs not used: 16 Tom James, 17 James Mace.
Referee: Mr Benjamin Speedie
Assistant Referees: Mr Mark Shapland & Mr Scott Tallis.
Brakes Man of the Match: Kurtis Revan.