Evostik Southern League Premier Division
ProEdge Stadium, Westwood Road, St Ives
Saturday 25th February 2017
Brakes picked up another useful point on the road against a Cambridge City side battling to escape the bottom four. The hosts will probably be disappointed not to have come away with all three points given the chances they created, but while Leamington defended stoutly throughout they were also indebted to skipper Tony Breeden for some vital saves to keep them level.
The game was played out on a difficult surface at St Ives Town’s ProEdge stadium that bore the scars of having so many matches played on it, and as a result the ball spent plenty of time in the air.
Invigorated after picking up ten points from their last six games the home side were the first to threaten, a smart stop from Breeden required to keep out Matt Foy after he had latched onto a lofted pass into the penalty area from Ollie Snaith.
The Brakes keeper was powerless to prevent a stunning opening goal for the Lilywhites on twenty two minutes however. Foy’s wayward header from a left wing cross may have provided a somewhat fortunate set up but there was nothing lucky about the strike from Snaith, who executed a superb first time volley with perfect technique, the ball rocketing into the roof of the net from just outside the box.
Leamington were unable to gain a foothold in the game at this point and but for the width of a post could have found themselves further behind three minutes later, Snaith’s ball in from the left found Foy, who beat Breeden with his shot only for the ball to strike the outside of the post before it was cleared away to safety.
Brakes dragged themselves level with something of a gift on the half hour, a high ball in from the left into a deserted Cambridge penalty area somehow bounced over tall centre back Jordan Williams and deceived goalkeeper Dean Snedker. Neither player had spotted Jack Edwards stealing in at the far post and he stooped to head home probably one of the easiest goals of his career from a couple of yards out.
The goal seemed to act as a wake up call to Leamington and they pushed forward at regular intervals for the remainder of the half, Connor Gudger driving a shot wide while Courtney Baker-Richardson clattered the bar with a header from Richard Taundry’s free kick, only to find he had been flagged offside.
The hosts looked to use the pace of the lively Goldy Capela to try and hurt Leamington, for whom Jamie Hood was his usual imperious self in central defence until he was withdrawn in the second half having been suffering from sickness and diarrhoea during the week.
Baker-Richardson was played in on the right by Edwards after Gudger had won the ball back well in defence early in the second half, but blazed wildly over the bar, while Joe Magunda came very close to breaking his goal duck with a looping header from another Taundry free kick dropping onto the roof of the net.
Capela engineered a golden opportunity to fire his side in front when he muscled his way past Gudger to crash in a powerful effort that was met by a fantastic stop from Breeden, who scrambled to his feet to keep out a fierce first time drive from right back Ben Robinson with an even better save.
Baker-Richardson had a penalty shout waved away as he was clearly prevented from shooting by Paul Cooper as he was played in on the right following a free kick, but Cambridge had further opportunities to snatch a late win. Charlie Woolfe should probably have scored as a poor defensive header from Taundry set him up for a clear strike at goal, but the City substitute sliced his volley wide of the target.
An almighty scramble in the Leamington penalty area in injury time saw Brakes eventually clear their lines after several failed attempts, but they were very nearly undone by a swirling wind assisted cross from Buster Harradine that landed on the roof of the net with Breeden furiously backpedaling to see the ball over.
On paper this may look like a poor result against a team fighting to stay in the division, especially with the rest of the top five all picking up three points, but despite picking up wins against many of the sides at the wrong end of the table Leamington have been pushed very hard in the majority of their games against them, highlighting fine margins between success and failure in this division. On this evidence Cambridge will surely drag themselves out of trouble in their ten remaining fixtures. Meanwhile Brakes still have as good a chance as any of their rivals of snatching that all important automatic promotion spot, starting with another tough assignment on Tuesday evening against a Chesham side who have won two away games since our single goal victory at The Meadow last weekend.
Cambridge City: Dean Snedker, Ben Robinson, Paul Cooper, Buster Harradine, Jordan Gent, Jordan Williams, Ollie Snaith, Ross Paterson ©, Goldy Capela (12 Charlie Woolfe, 77), Matt Foy (15 Manny Osei, 80), Darren Foxley.
Subs not used: 14 Harry Norman, 16 Ryan Sherman, 17 Dave Theobald.
Leamington: Tony Breeden ©, Richard Taundry, Connor Gudger, Darren Pond, Jamie Hood (14 Callum Gittings, 73), Joe Magunda, Courtney Baker-Richardson, Jordan Goddard (15 Rob Thompson-Brown, 80), Ahmed Obeng, Jack Edwards, Callum Powell (12 Richard Gregory, 69).
Subs not used: 16 Ben George, 17 Tom James.
Referee: Mr Andrew Humphries
Assistant Referees: Mr Daniel Todd & Mr Ryan Dix
Brakes Man of the Match: Tony Breeden.