Vanarama National League North
Eon Visual Media Stadium
Saturday 3rd February 2018
A point was not the result Brakes would have wanted or needed from a long trip up to North Ferriby United but it was what they were forced to settle for after a dour clash on a miserable February afternoon against an ultimately doomed but rejuvenated home side.
Under the circumstances it could be viewed as a point gained, with Leamington forced to operate a man light after Jack Edwards shown a straight red card minutes before half time, while manager Paul Holleran was sent from the dugout in the aftermath.
The hosts were clearly boosted from picking up their first point in quite some time at Chorley the previous Saturday and were in front within two minutes, Brett Agnew following up his first goal for the club with another here, latching on to a through ball from Jordan Harrison to chest down and crash a low drive into the bottom corner.
Breeden parried another shot which allowed Adam Bolder diving to send a header just wide of the far post as the Villagers buzzed around their opponents. Jordan Deacey then sent another effort just wide.
Edwards headed Kieran Dunbar’s free kick just wide of the target but Brakes were level 9 minutes after going behind. Callum Gittings pulled the ball back into the six yard box from the right touchline for Daniel Udoh to get enough purchase on his close range effort for the ball to squeeze under the body of keeper Ross Durrant, who would surely have been disappointed to concede.
Ahmed Obeng screwed a shot across goal and wide of the far post after Dunbar had played him in down the left before the same player was denied what looked to be a good chance for a second goal by a superb block challenge from Jordon Cooke after Udoh pulled the ball back into the box.
Edwards sent a header in the hands of Durrant but North Ferriby were clearly playing with confidence in attack, Harrison latching onto a wayward defensive header to crash a vicious first time volley across goal, Breeden getting down well with a strong arm to deflect the ball away from harm.
The main flashpoint came minutes before the break. With Referee Rebecca Welch having moved away from the grounded Cooke, who had gone down holding his face after an off the ball incident with Edwards, she consulted her assistant on that side before brandishing the red card. Given some of the challenges that had gone unpunished prior to this it was something of a surprise, and though Edwards did not protest as he left the pitch he later said that he had only pushed the Ferriby defender. Paul Holleran was clearly furious with the decision, and was sent from the pitchside shortly afterwards, leading to heated debate during the interval.
Joe Magunda replaced Kaine Felix as Leamington looked to steady the ship in the second half, and they certainly enjoyed the lions share of the attacking play, North Ferriby only showing in glimpses the forward threat they had displayed in the first 45 minutes.
Dunbar floated a free kick over the crossbar from a good position before Obeng weaved into the area from the left, shooting just wide of the near post. Junior English then poked a shot wide from 25 yards, Dunbar lifting another effort over the bar following a throw in as Brakes looked for that telling final touch.
Agnew cut inside and sent a low drive into the arms of Breeden as North Ferriby looked to exploit the gaps left by Leamington pushing forward, but the visitors generally dealt with what was thrown at them fairly comfortably.
Obeng hooked the ball back into the danger area from another free kick as Brakes pressed in the closing stages, English seeing his shot blocked away from goal. A shot cleared the Leamington crossbar in retaliation before substitute Kojo Kyei raced in on goal and was denied by a combination of Jamie Hood and Breeden.
The clearest chance for Brakes to snatch a vital second goal came when Gittings set up Udoh for a smart turn and shot that was beaten out by a fine save from Durrant. The ball was only cleared as far as Connor Gudger some 30 yards out and he was very unfortunate to see his low piledriver crash back off the outside of the post to safety.
Another of Ferriby’s substitutes, Sam Ansu saw his low goalbound drive parried well by Breeden, who claimed the ball at the second attempt. English then clipped the ball wide after Dunbar played it back into the box following a corner.
Harrison was probably the home side’s most dangerous player on the day, and he turned well to fire a rising drive inches past the upright. It was Leamington who came closest as the contest drew to its conclusion however, Magunda powering a header a whisker over the crossbar from a late corner.
Brakes boss Holleran was understandably frustrated with the result and some of the decisions made by his players, while also being quick to condone his own actions which led to his dismissal, saying ‘I’m bitterly disappointed because we knew what we wanted to do here today. We knew North Ferriby had shown a bit more resilience, especially at home. We knew that if we kept a clean sheet we’d win the game, we wanted to start the game well but within 90 seconds of what we’d been talking about we were behind, and that’s not good enough.
‘We’re making things really difficult for ourselves at the moment. We can’t keep playing for 50, 55 minutes of games with ten men. I think Jack’s reacted to their player stepping on his foot but he’s reacted. You’ve got to be more streetwise at this level I’m disappointed with myself because I got frustrated with it, but I refuse to talk about blaming officials, it’s just part and parcel of it now. The bottom line is we need to be starting games better, we need to be more ruthless in front of goal, and we need to show more control and more discipline, and that’s what we aim to do going forward.
‘What I will say about the players is that they played for a similar length of time on a heavy pitch last week and did the same again today; they’ve shown good character, but as I said, we are making things hard for ourselves and we need to address that.
North Ferriby United: Ross Durrant ©, Ben Clappison, Jack Walters, Bobby Johnson, Jordon Cooke, Jack Mail ( 15 Kojo Kyei, 72), Jordan Harrison, Adam Bolder, Brett Agnew, Jordan Deacey (12 Jamie Forrester, 72), Jerome Slew (14 Sam Ansu, 61).
Subs not used: 13 Lewis Exall, 16 Charlie Dunkerley.
Leamington: Tony Breeden ©, James Mace, Connor Gudger, Kieran Dunbar, Jamie Hood, Junior English, Kaine Felix (12 Joe Magunda, 46), Callum Gittings, Daniel Udoh, Jack Edwards, Ahmed Obeng.
Subs not used: 14 Kurtis Revan, 15 Liam Canavan, 16 Stefan Moore, 17 Shay Nicholson.
Referee: Rebecca Welch
Assistant Referees: James Westgate & David King
Brakes Man of the Match: Kieran Dunbar