Evostik Southern League Premier Division
Phillips 66 Community Stadium
Saturday 19th November 2016

Brakes notched a sixth straight Southern League victory to hold their place at the head of the table, but they were pushed all the way in the second half by a Hayes & Yeading United side under new joint managers Richie Hanlon and Paul Hughes for the first time in the league.

Since the defeat at Slough Town on September 27th, Leamington have picked up 22 points from a possible 24, scoring 20 goals and conceding only 3, and while Paul Holleran’s side would have been expected to pick up three points against a side third from bottom in the table, the reality was not so straightforward and made for an entertaining contest, particularly after half time.

Hanlon and Hughes had enjoyed great success at Kings Langley, steering the Hertfordshire club from Step 5 to Step 3 in successive seasons and they had quickly set about making their mark, introducing five debutants for the trip up the M40. They were backed by a small but noisy band of supporters who would surely have taken great heart from their team’s display.

Ryan Rowe turned well inside the penalty area to send a shot bouncing just past the post early on, while one of the Hayes & Yeading new boys Mitchell Weiss, cut inside to fire in a low effort that was going just wide although Tony Breeden pushed it behind, but an offside flag denied the visitors a corner.

After a couple of wayward efforts from both sides Leamington moved ahead on 17 minutes. Rob Thompson-Brown’s dead ball deliveries were spot on all afternoon, and after Ahmed Obeng was fouled on the left wing he delivered a dangerous cross into the six yard box which could have been diverted home by any number of players. Unfortunately for Hayes & Yeading it was their skipper Tom Broadbent who got the final touch a couple of yards out.

Jamie Hood had a super chance to quickly double Leamington’s advantage, but sent the ball soaring over the bar on the volley as a corner landed nicely for him just outside the six yard box.

Hayes & Yeading were trying to counter attack when they got the chance, and though they were able to get forward it was sometimes evident that they were getting used to the new faces in the team and instructions from the new managers.

Another great cross from Thompson-Brown was glanced off the outside of the post by Courtney Baker-Richardson, who would have been disappointed to see the offside flag raised had the ball gone in.

Brakes increased their lead on 37 minutes. Broadbent’s pass to Olu Durojaiye was intercepted by Jack Edwards, and Rowe and Obeng exchanged passes just inside the box before the striker netted his fifteenth goal of the season, a deflection wrong footing keeper Danny Boness, who was powerless to stop it hitting the back of the net.

A dangerous corner into the six yard box from Thompson-Brown saw Obeng’s shot deflected behind, from which Edwards saw another effort blocked and James Mace headed just past the post.

The visiting players had clearly taken in whatever was said to them by their managers at half time as they emerged from the dressing a completely different side. Some good approach play saw Terence Carter somewhat fortuitously find team mate Mahlondo Martin inside the box, but he almost took full advantage, leaving both Richard Taundry and Hood on their backsides with some neat footwork before Josh Hutchinson drew a fine block from Breeden, who had come off his line anticipating the danger. Mace was forced to head the dropping ball over the bar for a corner.

Good approach play from Leamington saw Thompson-Brown exchange passes with Rowe before testing Boness with a well struck low drive which the keeper held on to well. A lovely flick from the midfielder then saw him set up Baker-Richardson, but his effort lacked the power to trouble Boness.

Hayes & Yeading broke quickly from a Leamington attack, a long clearance from defence finding Weiss, who cut inside the retreating Hood before forcing Breeden into another good save.

Thompson-Brown’s right wing corner saw Rowe go inches from doubling his tally for the afternoon with a diving header across goal that seemed to drop past the post in slow motion. The visitors then played through the Brakes defence with worrying ease, Hutchinson’s stunning strike drawing an equally good save from Breeden as he arched to tip the ball over the bar. A header from a corner was then nodded clear by Mace.

Manny Adebowale tried his luck from distance with a powerful effort that was arrowing towards the bottom corner. It appeared that Breeden got a touch with another key save, the ball going behind off the post for a corner.

Brakes were still driving forward themselves at every opportunity as the game swung from end to end, Obeng being sent tumbling in the box under a challenge from Martin, but Referee Mark Howes was not swayed enough to award a penalty.

Edwards then nudged a free kick into the path of Rowe inside the six yard box, who seemed certain to bag a third for Leamington only for Boness to make a superb block.

Baker-Richardson was the next to be left wondering how he hadn’t scored when his dipping thunderbolt of a shot clipped the bar but with time running out it was the two first half goals that ultimately made the points safe for Leamington.

Paul Holleran was pleased with his side’s performance while also highlighting the big part the visitors played in making the game such an entertaining one.

‘I thought it was another good game following on from Basingstoke here, you can see what the new management team want to do. They had some really good spells in the game, we had some really good spells in the game. They started brightly, it took us a while to get used to their system. Obviously we weren’t really sure what they were going to do with the new boys in charge and a few new faces. We got a grip of it, played well then and deserved our goals. I thought our set plays were spot on today.

‘Second half it became a really open game because they were brave, pushed people on and asked questions of us, and it was only really through some heroic defending from the likes of Hoody, Mace and Tony that our clean sheet was kept intact. Going the other way then we had chances but we didn’t take them. Both goalkeepers did well which was a key thing. Attacking players on both sides will be disappointed that they didn’t put the ball in the back of the net but it was a really good game, almost spot on today, and it was a good day for us.’

Hayes & Yeading joint manager Paul Hughes was understandably upbeat and pleased with his new side’s display, saying ‘We had some stern words in the dressing room at half time because the two goals were gifts as far as we were concerned. We weren’t happy with that so in the second half we asked them to be more dominant in the air in both areas at the back and going forward. We did that, we competed better, we had the majority of the possession second half and we had two or three chances to score but we didn’t take them. Fair play to the goalkeeper though who pulled off a couple of great saves, I thought he did very well for them.

‘We’re very pleased that we’ve come to Leamington who are top of the league, and dominated the second half of the game, against if i’m honest with you, probably one of the best teams we’ve seen in the league, I can see why they’re up there now. Their delivery at set pieces is very good and a lot of it in this league is about set pieces, so we’re pleased with how we performed.‘

Brakes now travel to fourth placed Merthyr Town on Tuesday for an important game. The Welsh side having a good season of their own and will be eying a scalp as they chase promotion themselves.

Attendance: 404

Leamington: Tony Breeden ©, Richard Taundry (15 Ben George, 58), Connor Gudger, Darren Pond, Jamie Hood, James Mace, Courtney Baker-Richardson, Jack Edwards (14 Joe Magunda, 87), Ryan Rowe, Rob Thompson-Brown (12 Callum Gittings, 76), Ahmed Obeng.

Subs not used: 16 Tom James, 17 Nathan Olukanmi.

Hayes & Yeading United: Danny Boness, Brian Evans, Jack Kelly, Olu Durojaiye, Manny Adebowale, Tom Broadbent ©, Ryan Hope, Terence Carter (12 Jerson Dos Santos, 79), Mitchell Weiss, Josh Hutchinson, Mahlondo Martin.

Subs not used: 13 Mo Otuyo, 14 Colin Mugoya, 15 Dylan Kearney, 16 Joe Debayo.

Referee: Mr Mark Howes

Assistant Referees: Mr Kieron Dolphin & Mr Tom Wainman

Brakes Man of the Match: Rob Thompson-Brown.

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