Pre Season Friendly
Marston Road, Stafford
Saturday 12th July 2014
Brakes played out a useful first game of their pre season warm up against a competitive Stafford Rangers side at Marston Road. On the kind of warm sunny afternoon seemingly reserved for these kind of games, both sides felt their way through the 90 minutes with several drinks breaks and more importantly no injuries on what was a dry, bumpy surface due to the recent weather.
It was a good test for Leamington, led from the bench by Liam O'Neill in the absence of Paul Holleran, against a Stafford side who will surely be looking to bounce straight back to the Northern Premier League's top division after relegation last season.
There were 3 trialists in the Brakes squad, former Birmingham City and more recently AFC Telford United and Worcester City defender Luke Hubbins and Northampton Town youngster Callum Powell both started, while former Coventry youngster Bradley Jones was on the bench. New goalkeepers Neil Collett and Liam Maher played a half each, while fellow new signings Stuart Pierpoint, Jack Edwards, Stefan Moore and Danny Newton all featured. However, the biggest cheer of the day from the travelling supporters was reserved for the returning Richard Batchelor, who ended a frustrating spell of almost 12 months out as he played the last quarter of the game.
Stafford looked the livelier at times in a first half of few chances, but Lee Chilton drove a low shot across goal and wide after taking on his man on the left wing, while Lucan Spittle saw his shot well blocked at the other end following a free kick.
Pierpoint almost marked his first appearance for Leamington with a goal against one of his former clubs just before half time, but headed inches wide from close right from a right wing corner. Daniel Cope had the best chance for the hosts however, getting the better of the Brakes defence to crash in a shot that cannoned back off the bar.
Liam Maher impressed the travelling support with a smart save moments after his introduction in the second half, diving low to his left to save, then coming out of a pack of players to claim the ball from a cross.
Joe Magunda stretched to head wide, while Stafford substitute Loui Downes blazed well over the bar from a good position. Former Brakes keeper Lewis Fenney started the second half for the home side, and was called into action when Newton dug out a well struck shot, pushing the ball behind.
Leamington almost conceded a comedy goal, Maher dashing off his line to help out his defence as a shot was poked in, but the ball was missed by all, and was only prevented from reaching the back of the net by a super last gasp dash from David McNamee, who hooked it off the line with inches to spare.
Another Stafford substitute, Jordan Finch, shot over the bar, but it was Leamington who came closest to breaking the deadlock late on when Fenney produced another good save to keep out Newton's curling effort from the edge of the box.
Stafford Rangers: Adam Whitehouse, Michael Williams, Oliver Davies, Lucan Spittle, Wayne Daniel, Christian Dacres, Tom Vaughan, Steve Palmer, Ryan Wynter, Daniel Cope, Danny Smith.
Substitutes: 12 Mark Branch, 14 Loui Downes, 15 Jordan Finch, 16 Joel Mills, 17 Lewis Fenney, 18 Ryan Edmunds.
Leamington: Neil Collett (18 Liam Maher, 46), Luke Hubbins (15 David McNamee, 46), Stephan Morley, Joe Magunda, Stuart Pierpoint, Jack Edwards (17 Danny Newton, 66), Callum Powell (12 Stefan Moore, 46), Luke Connolly (16 Bradley Jones, 77), Aron Wint, Lee Moore, Lee Chilton (14 Richard Batchelor, 75).
Referee: Matt Randles
Assistant Referees: Benn Stott & Andy Martin.