Vanarama National League North
Phillips 66 Community Stadium
Saturday 27th January 2018
Brakes suffered injury time heartbreak as they slipped to defeat in a topsy turvy six pointer at the Phillips 66 Community Stadium having played for over 50 minutes with ten men after losing Joe Clarke to two yellow cards on 40 minutes.
Despite forging ahead through Jack Edwards on the hour after Callum Gittings had levelled Stephen Thompson’s early penalty with one of his own, Paul Holleran’s men began to tire on a heavy pitch in the closing stages having played in midweek, and Thompson would have the last laugh as he struck twice late in the second half to complete his hat trick and snatch all three points for Darlington which brings them to within one of Leamington as the battle for survival intensifies with each passing week.
Leamington started brightly, Tony Breeden’s free kick from halfway headed on target by Jack Edwards, while Kieran Dunbar almost fashioned a chance for himself from a neat exchange of passes with Edwards, only to be muscled off the ball by Greg Mills.
Darlington were awarded a penalty in their first attack of the game on 9 minutes, Reece Styche going to ground as Junior English challenged him. Thompson confidently stroked home the spot kick, sending Breeden the wrong way.
The goal briefly knocked the confidence out of Leamington, but they continued to show promise. There was a lengthy stoppage after some tit for tat between Edwards and Quakers defender Gary Brown, who appeared apoplectic with rage about something before going down for treatment. He then took his anger out on an advertising board and then on the dressing room after being substituted, presumably to prevent him from being sent off.
Daniel Udoh picked up where he left off from Tuesday evening, receiving the ball on the edge of the box and producing a smart turn and low shot which was saved by Darlo keeper Aynsley Pears.
Leamington were handed the opportunity to level on 17 minutes when Ahmed Obeng was dragged down inside the box. Pears guessed the right way and got a strong hand to the ball but the power on Gittings’ shot ensured that it hit the back of the net.
There was a strong shout for a second penalty as Udoh appeared to have his standing leg taken from under him by Brown prior to his departure, though it came more from the North Bank than the players themselves.
Clarke picked up his first booking for a foul on Darlington debutant Ben O’Hanlon as the visitors tried to break quickly. English headed over from a free kick from halfway, Terence Galbraith doing likewise from a Darlington corner at the other end.
Dunbar forced a good save from Pears as Obeng laid the ball back to him from the touchline, the young keeper turning the ball round his far post. Things then took a turn for the worse for Leamington as Clarke picked up what looked a soft second booking for another challenge in midfield which looked to have handed the initiative to Darlington.
There was time for both sides to trade chances before the interval, Josef Wheatley sending a first time drive well wide. Edwards came somewhat closer, Udoh nodding down on the edge of the box for him to belt a half volley inches past the upright.
The second half was flat for a time, with most of the game being played in midfield but it exploded into life once more on the hour. Udoh tore into the box, edging ahead of Joshua Heaton before lashing a powerful shot towards the near post, forcing a fine save from Pears who turned the ball behind for a corner. The reprieve was short lived however as Edwards rose highest to plant a powerful header high into the net at the far post from Dunbar’s left wing corner and put the ten men in front.
Tommy Wright immediately made changes that were to affect the outcome of the game later on, but Obeng was denied in superb fashion by Pears as the ball landed at his feet from a corner, digging it out for a shot to the near post that the goalkeeper did very well to keep out.
Thompson dampened the enthusiasm of the home support with a fine equaliser on 74 minutes, beating Connor Gudger on the right before driving a shot past Jamie Hood and Breeden into the far corner.
First half substitute David Syers was played in on goal by an intelligent long ball out of defence, but shot straight at Breeden. Wheatley lashed another effort across goal and just wide, and just as Brakes fans were hoping their team had done enough to hold out for what would have been a well earned point it was ripped from their grasp, substitute James Caton sent the ball in from the left and it was finished emphatically from close range by Thompson.
Leamington: Tony Breeden ©, James Mace, Connor Gudger, Joe Clarke, Jamie Hood, Junior English, Kieran Dunbar, Callum Gittings, Daniel Udoh (15 Joe Magunda, 79), Jack Edwards (16 Kurtis Revan, 84), Ahmed Obeng (12 Kaine Felix, 90).
Subs not used: 14 Liam Canavan, 17 Stefan Moore.
Darlington: Aynsley Pears, Luke Trotman, Ben O’Hanlon, Terence Galbraith, Joshua Heaton, Gary Brown (15 David Syers, 31), Greg Mills (16 James Caton, 61), Leon Scott (12 Phillip Turnbull, 61), Reece Styche ©, Josef Wheatley, Stephen Thompson.
Subs not used: 13 Matthew Bancroft, 14 Josh Gillies.
Referee: Mr Steven Copeland
Assistant Referees: Mr Greg Rollason & Mr Jack Shepherd
Brakes Man of the Match: Jack Edwards