Vanarama National League North
Monday 11th September 2017
Paul Holleran was encouraged by more positive signs that his team are moving in the right direction as Brakes picked up a creditable point on Tameside on Monday evening, just 48 hours after their battling display at Darlington, thanks to Jack Edwards’ second half leveller.
With Richard Taundry having picked up a knock on Saturday, Holleran restored Jamie Hood to the starting eleven on his return from suspension, James Mace moving to the right back position. Ahmed Obeng took his place on the bench while Kurtis Revan was unavailable.
Heavy overnight rainfall in the North had put the game in doubt but the pitch looked in fine fettle , the ball zipping around the freshly watered turf as both sides committed to attack in a lively opening period. Callum Gittings sent a low shot towards goal inside the first twenty seconds, Curzon Ashton responding with Ben Wharton getting in on the right to drive low towards goal, Tony Breeden holding onto the ball.
Matthew Crothers leathered a powerful drive just over the bar while Stefan Moore’s exchange of passes with Kieran Dunbar almost saw him through on goal, his shot deflected away from keeper Cameron Mason.
The home side made a number of unforced errors which Brakes were unable to capitalise on, but they were certainly not afraid to shoot on sight, a good turn from Wharton followed by a poor shot while more neat footwork from Max Leonard ended with a shot straight into the arms of Breeden. Joe Guest then arrowed a shot in from the right wing, Breeden holding at his near post.
Leamington had settled into the game well and were more than matching their hosts, but they found themselves behind on twenty nine minutes when the busy Wharton spread the play on the right to Leonard, who cut into the box and saw his cross blocked by a sliding challenge from Jamie Hood, the ball unfortunately sitting up perfectly for Wharton to smash between Breeden and his near post.
The goalscorer was making a nuisance of himself every time Curzon went forward and had the ball in the net again as the Leamington defence backed off, allowing Crothers to play him in, but the offside flag saved the visitors.
Their confidence knocked by the goal, Brakes retreated into their shell somewhat and started to allow the home side onto them a little too easily, Matthew Reagan driving just wide before half time.
The hosts saw a couple of long range efforts fly wide of the target early in the second half before Paul Holleran threw on Ahmed Obeng and Colby Bishop and Leamington began to grow into the game once more, asking more questions of the Nash’ defence. Their persistence paid off with twenty minutes remaining when Edwards connected with Bishop’s knock down from a cross into the box to slam the ball into the net off the inside of the post.
Breeden was required to make a good save from Steve Howson’s downward header from a free kick as the home side attempted to restore their advantage, but Brakes began to look more dangerous again, Bishop miscuing his header from a great cross into the six yard box from Edwards. The goalscorer then almost found the substitute with a downward header from a free kick.
James Mace made several marauding runs down the right wing in the second half, and some good work to win the ball back saw Bishop set up Edwards for a curling first time effort that dropped wide of the far post.
Curzon Ashton applied some late pressure in a bid to snatch victory, but solid defending from Hood and also Junior English helped Leamington stand firm and hold on to a deserved share of the spoils.
The manager felt that the Curzon goal came slightly against the run of play, but was pleased at the way his team fought back in the second half. ‘I was delighted in the end. They flood the pitch in deep areas and they do it well. If you can keep them in front of you you can deal with that and we did for long periods. We were a bit unfortunate with the goal, but I think at this moment in time, you look at which way we’re going to go, and it was positive again in the second half. Bright and bubbly, we limited them to few clear cut chances. I thought we dealt with their threat well, and to go to Darlington on Saturday and then to have another long journey tonight, to play as well as we did second half and how well we did physically, to finish the game strongly was very pleasing.’
‘We’ve taken two good points away from home, and in the last 10-15 minutes of both games if we’d taken our chances we could have had a few more. We’re beginning to look like a Conference North side but we’ve still got a bit of work to do.’
‘Big big thank you to the fans who travelled up, they’ve stayed right behind the team and it’s nice that they’re travelling home with something to enjoy.’
Stefan Moore echoed the thoughts of the manager, saying ‘We haven’t got what we deserved from a few games and we should have more points on the board, but that’s football; you don’t always get what you deserve. We’re heading in the right direction though.’
Curzon Ashton: Cameron Mason, Daniel Shaw, Joe Guest, Jonathan Hunt ©, Matthew Reagan, Matthew Crothers (14 Chris Rowney, 63), James Baillie (12 Tyrell McKenzie, 77), Paul Marshall, Ben Wharton (16 Sam Madeley, 71). Steve Howson, Max Leonard.
Subs not used: 15 Oliver Thornley, 17 Andreas Bianga.
Leamington: Tony Breeden ©, James Mace, Connor Gudger, Joe Clarke, Jamie Hood, Junior English, Kieran Dunbar, Callum Gittings, Stefan Moore (12 Colby Bishop, 62), Jack Edwards, Charley Edge (14 Ahmed Obeng, 58).
Subs not used: 15 Joe Magunda, 16 Rob Thompson-Brown, 17 Richard Taundry
Referee: Mr Stephen Copeland
Assistant Referees: Mr Daniel Bruce & Mr Joseph Pettitt
Brakes Man of the Match: Jack Edwards.