In establishing themselves among the early pacesetters in the Evostik Southern League Premier Division, Brakes look to be mastering the art of winning ‘ugly’ as they snatched away what Merthyr Town would have felt was a deserved point with an injury time winner at the Phillips 66 Community Stadium.
Paul Holleran’s men may not have hit the heights of their opening two matches but have picked up a useful six points at Hayes and Yeading and now in this match by stubbornly closing the door on their opponents and taking the clear cut chances that came their way to win both.
They clinched this one right at the death thanks to James Mace, giving a visiting Merthyr side who had showed plenty of enterprise and attacking threat throughout, no time to respond.
The Martyrs were first to threaten, Keyon Reffell crossing for Kyle McLaggon to turn and shoot low towards goal, Tony Breeden getting down quickly to push the ball away from danger.
The visitors started well and though Leamington got forward they were unable to trouble keeper Glyn Garner in the first half, Ryan Rowe and Rob Thompson-Brown both sending shots sailing high and wide, while the latter also fired over from a free kick won by Ahmed Obeng and then set up Joe Magunda to shoot over the bar from the edge of the box.
Thompson-Brown led the charge again as Leamington broke forward quickly from a Merthyr corner, carrying the ball to the edge of the box and setting up Ben George for a shot that was blocked.
Reffell’s first time drive flew well wide but the Merthyr man forced Breeden to palm his next effort away at his near post.
Obeng registered Brakes’ first effort on target in the second half, picking up a looping pass out to the left wing from Thompson-Brown before cutting inside and shooting low towards the near post, but the ball was easily held by Garner.
The visitors forced an extraordinary number of corners over the course of the game, but the Leamington defence remained relatively untroubled each time the ball was sent into the box. However, Merthyr were looking the more likely to score, but with both managers throwing on their three substitutes in an attempt to alter the course of the game Leamington began to come into it more as time ticked away. Jamie Hood headed wide as Mace nodded a free kick back across goal, and Courtney Baker-Richardson saw a shot deflected into the side netting as the home side broke again from a corner at the other end.
Rob Elvins headed down and just wide from a corner, while two or three shots were blocked in a frenetic few moments, Merthyr breaking forward only to be denied by more stout defensive work from Brakes.
It was a late challenge from Adam Davies on Obeng that presented Thompson-Brown with the opportunity to swing in a dangerous free kick in injury time which was headed back into the six yard box by Jack Edwards, allowing Mace to stab the ball home to spark wild celebrations among the home support.
Leamington: Tony Breden ©, Richard Taundry, Connor Gudger, Joe Magunda (15 Rob Elvins, 82), Jamie Hood, James Mace, Ben George (14 Courtney Baker-Richardson, 59), Jack Edwards, Ryan Rowe (12 Lee Moore, 74), Rob Thompson-Brown, Ahmed Obeng.
Subs not used: 16 Tom James, 17 Ryan Quinn.
Merthyr Town: Glyn Garner, Adam Davies, Scott Barrow, Gethin Jones, Curtis McDonald (16 Corey Jenkins, 53), Rhys Baggridge, Jon Brown, Ashley Evans ©, Kyle McLaggon (14 Elliot Scotcher, 76), Keyon Reffell, Ian Traylor (12 Jarrad Wright, 62).
Subs not used: 15 Jaye Bowen, 17 Ryan Prosser.
Referee: Mr Darren Wilding
Assistant Referees: Mr Ricky Brooks & Mr Paul Tyler
Brakes Man of the Match: James Mace.
Report by Paul Edwards & Video by Nick Leek (Leamington FCTV)