Vanarama National League North
The Chorley Group Victory Park Stadium
Saturday 2nd December 2017
Leamington were undone by a Chorley side with a little more attacking thrust who rarely looked like relinquishing their advantage once they gained it at the end of a competitive first half.
Paul Holleran named an unchanged sixteen for the long trip up Lancashire to face a Magpies side with only a solitary home defeat in the National League North so far this season, against Salford City in August.
Chorley were almost presented with a golden opportunity when Joe Magunda tried to let a long ball forward travel through to Tony Breeden, only to realise at the last moment that Marcus Carver might get on the end of it, forcing him into a hurried clearance.
The hosts forced the Leamington skipper into his first save when Connor Gudger gave away a free kick on the right some 20 yards from goal. It looked a well rehearsed routine as Adam Blakeman played it forward for Nick Haughton to drive a shot in towards the near post where Breeden got a good fist to the ball.
The first good spell of the game for Leamington saw Liam Canavan win a corner which Kieran Dunbar delivered too close to keeper Matt Urwin, who launched the ball quickly upfield, Richard Taundry’s loose back header being pounced upon by Carver, who sent his shot high, wide and handsome.
Canavan spurned a glorious chance to fire Leamington ahead when Dunbar scampered clear down the right, his cross sitting up nicely for the former Kettering man only for him to slice his first time shot wide.
A frenetic passage of play ended with slaloming run from Haughton and a stabbed shot inches past the post, the on loan Fleetwood Town man furious that he hadn’t won a free kick as he felt he had been impeded.
The pace of Kaine Felix was beginning to cause problems for the Chorley right back Matt Challoner, but his defensive team mates stood firm to mop up. The game was certainly becoming far more open, with both teams enjoying plenty of the ball but not always making the right decisions in the attacking third, particularly in Leamington’s case.
Brakes were living dangerously at the back at times, Breeden keeping his cool as the offisde flag stayed down to sidestep Carver and clear, while Junior English did just enough to shepherd the ball back to his skipper as the busy frontman threatened to take it past him and slot into an empty net.
An intelligent ball out to the right wing presented Blakeman with the chance to cross, Josh O’Keefe really should have hit the target at least, but lifted his shot over the bar.
The pace of the Chorley frontline was certainly keeping the Leamington defence on their toes, forcing several rushed clearances. Matty Hughes’ deflected shot saw Andy Teague head Blakeman’s corner well over the bar, before the terrier-like Haughton’s curling strike deflected behind, Jason Walker’s header a whisker over the bar.
The hosts were on top now, and got the goal their pressure deserved when Teague powered home a header from Blakeman’s free kick just inside the Leamington half six minutes before half time.
Chorley were especially adept at snapping into the tackle and winning back possession, and as they pinned Leamington back in their own half Teague sent another header over the bar. They then ripped Brakes apart with a devastating counter attack right on half time, tearing forward down the right from a free kick conceded in their own half, an unmarked Carver finishing the move with a shot into the roof of the net.
Canavan hit the advertising hoardings high above the Chorley goal in the early minutes of the second half but the home side were soon threatening once more, Haughton driving through a crowded penalty area and wide as a corner kick was played to him on the edge of the box.
Revan turned well to fire Leamington’s first shot on target of the contest, unfortunately it was straight at Urwin.
A Leamington corner led to Dunbar playing the ball back in and forcing a save from Urwin, while as Breeden played the ball back up field a shot from Felix was deflected behind. Junior English attempted an acrobatic overhead kick that was blocked at source, a shame as it looked likely to be on target at least.
Haughton mis kicked from a good position inside the box, then as the ball came swiftly back upfield as a Leamington attack broke down, he fired an effort straight at Breeden.
Revan came very close to pulling a goal back when he beat Blakeman in a foot race down the right before taking the ball past Urwin. He was forced wide but still managed to turn the ball towards goal at the last minute, Teague smuggling the ball behind for a corner.
Carver came close his second and Chorley’s third when he judged the bounce of the ball far better than Hood and thrashed a shot towards the bottom corner that was superbly turned round the post by Breeden.
The intensity of the game understandably died down in the second half, but Brakes did their best to pull a goal back, Dunbar winning and taking a free kick that curled into the arms of Urwin. Taundry sent a well struck dead ball into the same place in injury time, while Chorley substitute Ian Black almost played Carver in for a third, Breeden clearing his lines well.
Brakes gave a good account of themselves but just fell short in front of goal. They will need to rediscover their touch when Gainsborough Trinity visit the Phillips 66 Community Stadium next weekend.
Chorley: Matt Urwin, Matt Challoner, Adam Blakeman, Andy Teague ©, Scott Leather, Josh Wilson, Nick Haughton (14 Paul Jarvis, 90), Josh O’Keefe, Marcus Carver, Jason Walker (16 Adam Roscoe, 87), Matty Hughes (15 Ian Black, 71).
Subs not used: 12 Adam Anson, 17 Dale Witham.
Leamington: Tony Breeden ©, Richard Taundry, Connor Gudger, Joe Magunda (15 Ahmed Obeng, 76, Jamie Hood, Junior English, Kieran Dunbar (16 Rob Thompson-Brown, 85), Joe Clarke, Kurtis Revan, Liam Canavan (12 Callum Gittings, 70), Kaine Felix.
Subs not used: 14 James Mace, 17 Stefan Moore.
Referee: Mr Alex Kirkley
Assistant Referees: Mr Daniel Locker & Mr Peter Shacklady
Brakes Man of the Match: Joe Clarke.