Evostik Southern League Premier Division
Loadlok Community Stadium
Tuesday 22nd November 2016
Brakes returned from the long trip to South Wales with a well earned point from an entertaining contest against a Merthyr Town side who on this evidence look to be a good bet to remain up with the pacesetters in the division.
Paul Holleran was forced to make a change to his starting eleven when Ryan Rowe picked up a slight groin strain during the warm up. He was replaced by Callum Gittings, with Courtney Baker-Richardson moving into the central strikers position. It was testimony to the strength in depth of the squad that they were able to go toe to toe with one of the stronger sides in the league without their 15 goal top scorer.
The home side were quickest out of the traps and took an early lead through Ryan Prosser, who slotted the ball home low off the inside of the post from Ian Traylor’s right wing cross with just five minutes played.
Merthyr were clearly up for the challenge and zipped the ball confidently round their artificial surface as Leamington took time to settle, but they dragged themselves level with their first effort on goal on nineteen minutes. Connor Gudger refused to give up on a chase for the ball down the left wing and dug out a superb cross from the touchline which was met by an unmarked Darren Pond at the far post, the midfielder keeping his eye on the ball and diving to head home his second goal of the season.
Brakes started to come much more into the game as the confidence from the leveller seeped through the team, and they more than matched the hosts for endeavour and commitment as the game continued to ebb and flow. Jack Edwards nodded the ball towards goal for Baker-Richardson to chase, only for Curtis McDonald to shepherd it back to keeper Glyn Garner.
A slick break from a Merthyr attack saw Thompson-Brown and Ahmed Obeng set up Baker-Richardson to place a shot straight at Garner.
The closest Merthyr came to threatening Tony Breeden’s goal again was when a Leamington defensive header flashed past the post, but the home were still well in the game as half time arrived. Prior to this Pond had a shot blocked, Baker-Richardson firing the rebound well wide.
Leamington were on top in the early stages of the second half without threatening the Merthyr goal but the Martyrs steadily began to regain the upper hand in patches as the game wore on. Prosser’s shot was deflected into the side netting while Kayne McLaggon’s shot through a crowd travelled safely through to Breeden.
Obeng appeared to have been harshly penalised when Garner dropped the ball after claiming a through pass, leaving the Brakes striker to tap into an empty net, but he was left wondering what offence he had committed as a free kick was awarded to the home side.
At times it appeared that Merthyr were a matter of inches from threading the perfect pass through for their front men, but while Leamington were doing a lot of defending on the edge of their own half they continued to hold firm.
Tom James replaced Thompson-Brown who had taken a knock in the closing stages, and almost fizzed the perfect diagonal ball into the path of Obeng, who was charging into the penalty area.
Both sides picked up late bookings which may hamper them further down the line but neither side really deserved to lose an absorbing contest, and while Brakes’ six match winning run has come to an end they avoided defeat against one of their promotion rivals.
Merthyr Town: Glyn Garner, Scott Tannock, Scott Barrow, Jarrad Wright, Curtis McDonald, Rhys Baggridge, Ryan Prosser (15 Corey Jenkins, 83), Eliot Richards, Kayne McLaggon ©, Keyon Reffell, Ian Traylor.
Subs not used: !2 Ben Watkins, 13 Oliver Davies, 14 Gavin Williams, 16 Gethin Jones.
Leamington: Tony Breeden ©, Richard Taundry, Connor Gudger, Darren Pond, Jamie Hood, James Mace, Courtney Baker-Richardson, Jack Edwards, Callum Gittings, Rob Thompson-Brown (16 Tom James, 76), Ahmed Obeng.
Subs not used: 12 Ryan Rowe, 14 Joe Magunda, 15 Ben George, 17 Nathan Olukanmi.
Referee: Mr Neil Pratt
Assistant Referees: Mr David Sallis & Mr Ben Morris
Brakes Man of the Match: Richard Taundry.