Evostik Southern League Premier Division
Monday 29th August 2016
Brakes eased to victory in their Bank Holiday Monday derby at Stratford Town courtesy of a first half brace from Ryan Rowe.
The summer signing took his tally to five from seven starts with two very well taken strikes, and while the hosts posed more of a threat in the second half Leamington looked comfortable throughout as they recorded a fifth win from their opening seven games to round off a very satisfactory opening month of the season.
Much like the previous fixture at the DCS Stadium towards the back end of last season, this really didn’t have the feel of a local derby about it other than the larger than usual attendance, swelled by a decent travelling support. The home side lined up with five former Brakes players in their squad, their most recent signing James Fry making his full debut in midfield, while former coach Liam O’Neill was up against his old club for the first time.
The game took a while to get going, Jamie Sheldon whipping in an early cross for Town skipper Guy Clark to glance a header just off target, while Kieren Westwood’s low effort was well wide.
Returning to one of his former clubs, Rob Thompson-Brown fired a decent effort over the bar from a tight angle after being pushed away from goal on the right, but the blue touch paper was lit for the visiting supporters on 23 minutes when an inviting ball in from the right by Ben George was met with a towering header from Rowe which looped over Niall Cooper into the top corner.
The goal improved the atmosphere a little as the crowd of 523 basked in markedly different weather conditions to those experienced on Saturday. Thompson-Brown came close to a second when he cut in from the left and lashed a low drive across goal and just wide, and it was he who set up Rowe for his second goal moments before the half time whistle, the striker holding up play before rolling his marker and crashing a rising drive into the roof of the net from 6 yards.
The second half was littered with yellow cards for both sides though there was barely a bad tackle throughout. Daniel Summerfield appeared to miss his kick from a good position in front of goal as the ball came in from the right, Tony Breeden gathering the ball, while Ahmed Obeng shot low and wide following a good run from Thompson-Brown.
Edwin Ahenkorah forced Breeden into his only real save of the match when his rising drive needed to be pushed over the bar by the Brakes skipper. Sheldon fired a free kick horribly off target, while Leamington substitute Lee Moore should have scored a third for his side, heading narrowly over the bar from Obeng’s left wing cross. Stratford debutant Edji Mbunga’s free kick failed to trouble Breeden’s goal in the final action of the game, perhaps summing up Stratford’s afternoon as they failed to hit the heights of their impressive 3-0 success at Kettering just two days earlier, while Paul Holleran was left to reflect on another job well done for his side.
Stratford Town: Niall Cooper, Daniel Summerfield, Kieren Westwood, Guy Clark © (14 Simeon Tulloch, 83), Jordan Cullinane-Liburd, Warren Brooks, Barry Fitzharris (15 Edji Mbunga, 54), James Fry, Edwin Ahenkorah, Will Grocutt, Jamie Sheldon.
Subs not used: 12 Richard Gregory, 16 Liam Francis, 17 Emmitt Defouneso.
Leamington: Tony Breeden ©, Ben George, Connor Gudger, Joe Magunda (14 Rob Elvins, 73), Jamie Hood, James Mace, Rob Thompson-Brown, Darren Pond, Jack Edwards, Ryan Rowe (12 Lee Moore, 69), Ahmed Obeng (15 Tom James, 88).
Subs not used: 16 Ryan Quinn, GK Lewis Gwilliams.
Referee: Mr Robbie Dadley
Assistant Referees: Mr Ian Croston & Mr Tom Kidd
Brakes Man of the Match: Jamie Hood.