Brakes slipped to a narrow defeat against a Barrow side who, on the evidence of this match, will surely be up among the promotion candidates in April, but it took a penalty inside the final 15 minutes to secure the points for Darren Edmondson’s side, writes Paul Edwards.
The hosts opened brightly as they went in search of an early goal to settle the crowd and Andy Cook’s hooked volley across goal was deflected behind inside the opening minute.
However, Paul Holleran’s men were in confident mood themselves after two successive victories and frustrated sections of the Bluebirds’ support with their refusal to roll over.
Paddy Lacey received an early yellow card for a rash challenge on Danny Newton before Neil Collett was called into action, pushing a rising drive from Ted Cribley over the crossbar.
It would be Leamington who drew first blood, however, with a long overdue and well-deserved first goal of the season for Newton in the 19th minute.
The striker charged in from the right and burst between two defenders before crashing a low drive into the bottom corner from 20 yards.
Unfortunately, it was a lead that Brakes were unable to consolidate as within a couple of minutes Barrow were level courtesy of an equally fine strike from Dan Pilkington. The striker darted in from the left wing, evading three challenges before lashing a powerful shot into the roof of the net from a tight angle.
The remainder of the first half was an entertaining affair as both sides traded blows.
The hosts did the bulk of the attacking, as expected, but Leamington held their own quite comfortably for the most part, breaking up play well and winning the ball back to create their own forward momentum.
An Aron Wint shot was deflected behind following Richard Batchelor’s lofted ball to the far post, while Batchelor failed to unduly test Bluebirds keeper Tony McMillan with headers from two corners.
The livewire midfielder then dissected the Barrow defence with a fine pass to send Stefan Moore through on goal but McMillan came off his line bravely to block with the ball ricocheting off Moore and behind for a goal-kick.
Collett fielded a tame shot from Jason Walker while Jamie Tank did well to head clear as Barrow pushed for a half-time advantage.
Collett was in action again early in the second half, hacking a shot off the line as he dived to save, while Cook believed he had put his side in front when latching on to a free-kick into the Leamington box only for the goal to be ruled out.
Two more Barrow attempts were well blocked while on a rare foray forward, Moore was denied by two defenders as he tricked his way into the box, firing his shot well over.
The pattern of play indicated a goal was more likely to arrive at the other end of the pitch and sadly for Brakes that is what happened.
Walker was adjudged to have been clipped as he tried to find a way through inside the area and, although the referee’s assistant on the far side did not agree with the decision initially, a penalty was awarded and Walker stepped up to send Collett the wrong way and seal the points for Barrow.
Cook should, perhaps, have added gloss to the scoreline late on when he was inches from connecting with a low driven cross from substitute James Ellison, but that would have been harsh on Leamington, who went toe to toe with their more illustrious opponents for long spells and will have been disappointed to lose out in the manner they did.
Barrow AFC: Tony McMillan, Andrew Burns, Niall Cowperthwaite, Paddy Lacey, Danny Livesey, Simon Grand, Ted Cribley (Izak Reid, 73), Sam Sheridan (Alex-Ray Harvey, 86), Jason Walker, Andy Cook, Dan Pilkington (James Ellison, 80). Subs not used: Jamie Crowther, Liam Willis.
BRAKES: Neil Collett, James Mace, Stephan Morley, Joe Magunda, Stuart Pierpoint, Jamie Tank, Aron Wint (Matt Dodd, 63), Jordan Goddard, Stefan Moore, Danny Newton, Richard Batchelor (Lee Chilton, 73). Subs not used: Jack Edwards, Lee Moore, Luke Connolly.