Hemel Hempstead Town 1 Leamington 3
Evostik Southern League Premier Division
Vauxhall Road, Hemel Hempstead
Saturday 27th October 2012
Brakes turned in their best performance of the season to stun league leaders Hemel Hempstead Town at Vauxhall Road in a match that was a superb advert for Southern League football. The Tudors had stormed to the summit on the back of a goal filled run but they came up against a resolute, well drilled Leamington side who were dogged in defence and clinical going forward.
The lack of games recently had planted seeds of doubt in the minds of some of the travelling faithful and the team sheet saw Paul Holleran's side line up with only one striker in Ricky Johnson, but he was superbly supported throughout by Lee Chilton and also James Husband and Matt Dodd on the wings. Craig Owen slotted back into the side as though he had never been away, and the back four scrapped for every ball in the absence of skipper Jamie Hood, sometimes winning challenges they had no right to.
Hemel showed why they have hit the heights in the early exchanges, spraying the ball around well and going close through a header just past the post, but Leamington created the first meaningful chance when they won a corner, the award of which was not met with general approval by the home side. Liam Daly headed down towards goal at the far post and the ball was blocked on the line. Hemel broke forward from this at speed and Niall Cooper came off his line well to clear from the advancing striker.
Ricky Johnson was the first name into the Referee's notebook for a late challenge on keeper Mark Osborn, and Hemel's Charlie Mpi quickly followed him for crudely taking out Husband on the touchline. In between times Dave Pearce cut in from the right to curl a shot just past the post.
Both sides were providing real entertainment for the 477 Inside Vauxhall Road, goals being the only thing missing, but Brakes almost provided one when a sweeping move saw Chilton play a pass out to Dodd on the right, beating Ryan Parsons and feeding the cross in low to Johnson, who did well to turn his marker before firing a shot against the bar. The ball was only half cleared to Owen, who powered it back towards the top corner only for Parsons to somehow get his head in the way and divert it behind for a corner, from which Daly headed over.
The momentum was with the visiting side now, and backed raucously throughout by a sizeable following, they moved in front on 19 minutes when some excellent work on the left by Husband saw him fire in a dangerous cross which was inadvertently diverted over the head of Osborn by the boot of Joe Bruce.
Leamington put themselves firmly in the driving seat by adding a second 15 minutes later. Husband did superbly again on the wing before lifting over another inviting cross which was met first time by Ricky Johnson, who sent the ball over the head of the stranded Osborn to score his first goal for the club.
Leamington were buoyant now, snapping into challenges in midfield and not allowing their opponents to settle. They held the lead to half time but Hemel came out and forced the issue in the early stages of the second half, grabbing a goal back when a clearance from a shot struck Craig Owen and just evaded the dive of Niall Cooper as it rolled into the corner of the net.
Brakes refused to be rattled by this and gradually settled back into their first half rhythm, restoring their two goal advantage 6 minutes later. The goal was once again created from the wings, Dodd sending the ball in from the left where Johnson lifted it back across goal for the in-rushing Lee Chilton to head in off the underside of the bar.
Dodd was annoyed that the Referee felt he had played for a penalty when he went down under a challenge after a jinking run into the penalty area, but Leamington continued to get forward to try and add to their tally. The closing stages of the game became a little scrappy, with Leamington holding together well as the Tudors searched in vain for another goal to really make it interesting. Substitute Victor Osobu made a nuisance of himself down the Hemel left, but was stopped in his tracks several times by fine tackles from Martyn Naylor and Joe Magunda. Leamington almost added a fourth late on when Dodd slipped the ball through for Chilton, who stretched to move it across for an unmarked Tom Berwick, but Osborn was off his line quickly to gather. Osobu saw a shot deflected behind for a corner, and Jordan Parkes swivelled to hook a shot towards goal that saved by Cooper, who was a huge presence in his area throughout, but Hemel were forced to concede their 6 match unbeaten streak, while Leamington hoist themselves up to second place with 4 games in hand on the leaders.
Paul Holleran was delighted with the result and performance, saying ‘The players were tremendous today, I thought they worked extremely hard in what at times were difficult conditions. Both teams deserve a lot of credit because they both tried to play the right way but I don’t think anybody could argue with the result, we were right at it today.’
Hemel Hempstead Town: Mark Osborn, Danny May, Ryan Parsons, David King, Joe Bruce (16 Jack Nelly, 65), Peter Holmes ©, Charlie Mpi, Steve O’Leary (15 Victor Osobu, 57), Dave Pearce (14 Alex Campana, 57), Matt Nolan, Jordan Parkes.
Subs not used: 12 Kevin Ayodele, 22 Sam Beagle.
Leamington: Nial Cooper, Martyn Naylor, Stephan Morley ©, Joe Magunda, James Mace, Liam Daly, Matt Dodd (14 Lee Moore, 86), Craig Owen, Ricky Johnson (15 Tom Berwick, 84), Lee Chilton, James Husband (12 Alex Taylor, 82).
Subs not used: 16 Sam Adkins, 17 Dan Ward.
Referee: Mr Andrew Aylott
Assistant Referees: Mr John Wynne & Mr Bob Trinder
Brakes Man of the Match: James Husband.
Last Updated (Sunday, 28 October 2012 09:54)