Vanarama National League North
Phillips 66 Community Stadium
Saturday 18th November 2017
Brakes bounced back emphatically from two successive Vanarama National League North defeats by recording their biggest win of the season in an eventful encounter as they met Spennymoor Town for the first time.
Paul Holleran shuffled his pack for the clash with their high flying visitors, making four changes to the eleven that had kicked off the game at Blyth Spartans, and he was vindicated as his side crashed in four goals without reply.
While the scoreline may look one sided the reality was far from it, Jason Ainsley’s side showing just why they have settled so well into their first season at Step 2 by creating plenty of chances and posing a constant threat, but ultimately the telling factor was that Leamington took their opportunities while producing what the manager declared was probably their most complete performance of the season against one of the better sides in the division.
Kaine Felix was starting his first game at home and looked eager to impress early on, chasing and winning lost causes to create problems for the Spennymoor defence.
The visitors were just as bright however with the dangerous David Foley breaking at pace up the left, Junior English intervening to cut out his attempted cross to Robert Ramshaw.
English and Callum Gittings both stretched to head over the visitors crossbar from dead ball deliveries in the opening twenty minutes as both teams continued to suss each other out. Foley then forced a sprawling low save from Breeden as he latched onto Ryan Hall’s cut back into the box.
Colby Bishop was the architect of the the opening goal on 27 minutes, charging onto a loose ball in the Spennymoor penalty area before being tripped by an unnecessary challenge. He picked himself up and with regular taker Rob Thompson-Brown sitting on the bench, took responsibility to send Jordan Porter the wrong way from the spot, his third goal of the season and first in front of the home supporters.
Spennymoor retaliated, Glen Taylor going mightily close with a low drive that beat the dive of Breeden but whistled the wrong side of the upright.
The visitors were unfortunate not to go in level at half time as a spell of pressure on the Leamington defence ended with Ramshaw’s snapshot pinging back off the outside of the post, Breeden looking to have the shot covered.
Foley forged the first chance of the second half, turning English to drive a shot into the near post inside the box that Breeden blocked with his legs. Joseph Tait then headed well wide from Matt Dixon’s right wing corner.
The visitors were pressing hard but were stunned when Richard Taundry sent a deep cross into the penalty area from in front of the home dugout, Bishop rising majestically to thunder a powerful header into the bottom corner.
Within minutes Spennymoor were handed the chance to halve the deficit as Kieran Dunbar brought down Chris Chantler in the box. However, Breeden stood up tall and made a fine save, denying Tait as he drove his kick down the middle.
Dunbar blasted a powerful snap shot straight at Porter from a short corner as the game swung from end to end before the visitors were awarded another penalty, Breeden chasing the ball to the edge of his area on the left as Foley fired a dangerous ball across goal which was somehow missed by Hall sliding in at the far post. The assistant referee on that side signalled that the Brakes skipper had fouled Taylor, but once again he guessed right and dived to his left to deny the Spennymoor skipper for the second time in a matter of minutes.
Foley was guilty of a horrendous miss as he sliced first time and wide of goal with only Breeden to beat after Jamie Hood‘s attempt to cut out a cross fell perfectly for him. Hall then saw his shot blocked behind as Brakes continued to stand their ground.
Felix came so so close to a glorious third when he outmuscled a defender to reach a long clearance and go clean through on goal, beating Porter with his shot which rolled agonisingly the wrong side of the post via the faintest of touches from the goalkeeper. Hood then powered a header over the bar from a corner.
Tait’s afternoon then went from bad to worse as he was penalised for bringing down English in the area, presenting Bishop with the chance to score his hat trick goal. He duly obliged, sending Porter the wrong way to the delight of the North Bank.
Jamie Chandler was left pummelling the turf as a decent effort flew wide of the target. Brakes substitute Kurtis Revan almost made an instant impact, turning to crash a shot just wide and later driving powerfully just over the bar.
There was still time for Dunbar to roll in a sublime fourth for Brakes with five minutes remaining, beating Porter down at his near post after a devastating break, Felix and Gittings combining to set up the chance.
Taylor dragged a shot wide to sum up a frustrating afternoon for the visitors, and Breeden saved bravely at the feet of two Moors substitutes as a crazy 90 minutes drew to a close.
While Holleran was delighted with the overall performance, as always he felt there were areas for improvement. ‘I was really disappointed that after we went 2-0 up we didn’t manage the game very well, and if it wasn’t for two fantastic penalty saves it could have been a very different afternoon. We’ve got enough experience in the squad to deal with these periods better. That was the only little thing, but I’m nit picking because there were some massive performances today.’
‘It’s a tough old league, every point you earn you have to work hard for, and we’ve had to work very hard for that today. 4-0 probably isn’t a fair reflection on Spennymoor but for us, we’ll take it. It was great for the supporters to see that. We’ve had a few performances like that on the road but not at home so it was good that we could produce that today. It’s been a really good day for us and I’m absolutely delighted with the players that have come in, the impact the substitutes have made. Hopefully moving forward we can all do better.’
Understandably the Spennymoor manager Jason Ainsley cut a frustrated and slightly bemused figure afterwards, saying that it was one of the most bizarre games he had ever seen. ‘If you don’t take your chances you don’t win football matches, simple as that. We’ve had countless chances, we’ve huffed and puffed and done well in spells but we’ve got to do better than that, you can’t afford to give teams four goals. We’ve been on a great run and it’s disappointing that it’s ended like this.’
Leamington: Tony Breeden ©, Richard Taundry, Connor Gudger, Joe Magunda, Jamie Hood, Junior English, Kieran Dunbar (14 Rob Thompson-Brown, 86), Callum Gittings, Colby Bishop (15 Kurtis Revan, 77), Joe Clarke, Kaine Felix (17 Ahmed Obeng, 89).
Subs not used: 12 Liam Canavan, 16 James Mace.
Spennymoor Town: Jordan Porter, Kallum Griffiths, Chris Chantler, Jamie Chandler, Joseph Tait © (12 Christopher Mason, 81), James Curtis, Ryan Hall (15 Andrew Johnson, 81), Matt Dixon (16 Graeme Armstrong, 68), Glen Taylor, Robert Ramshaw, David Foley.
Subs not used: 13 Shane Bland, 14 Mark Anderson.
Referee: Mr Barry Lamb
Assistant Referees: Mr Jake Topp & Mr Jack Shepherd
Brakes Man of the Match: Colby Bishop