Breeden and Hood have given Brakes the strength to succeed

Ben Mackey and Jack Edwards celebrate Leamington's match-winner against Merthyr. Picture: Morris Troughton
Ben Mackey and Jack Edwards celebrate Leamington's match-winner against Merthyr. Picture: Morris Troughton

Leamington boss Paul Holleran hailed his side’s defensive steel after they returned to the top of the Southern Premier League with a 1-0 win over Merthyr on Saturday.

An 85th-minute header from Ben Mackey sealed the points as Brakes recorded their eighth clean sheet in 14 league outings.

They followed it up with another as they beat Bishops Cleeve 2-0 in the Red Insure Cup on Tuesday night and Holleran said the return of two key figures has been the bedrock of their success.

“Keeping clean sheets is always a good starting point whatever level you are at,” said Holleran.

“If you keep the back door shut you’ve got half a chance.

“We’ve got a well-organised unit there.

“There’s no doubt about it, we’ve improved in the number one and the number five areas with Tony Breeden and Jamie Hood coming in.

“They give us experience and know-how and altogether it gives us a good platform.”

Breeden enjoyed one of his quietist afternoons of the campaign on Saturday as a well-organised Merthyr side set themselves up to frustrate their hosts.

However, Holleran said the manner of his side’s performance had all the hallmarks of a successful side.

“We’ve got to get used to teams like Merthyr coming here and making it hard for us.

“So the concentration levels have to be high and you’ve got to be patient.

“It was a really clever finish from Ben and it’s something we’ve worked on with Rob (Ogleby) creating the space for Jack Edwards to get the flick-on.

“But Ben still had to get away from the defender and generate the power.”

But while Leamington lead the way in the Southern Premier League, Holleran admits they have yet to hit the heights he knows they are capable of.

“There’s more to come. “We’ve clicked in patches and we’ve got certain parts of the game right.

“But Rob Ogleby’s had niggling injuries, Ben’s not played for the best part of 12 months and there’s more to come for Lee Chilton.

“The schedule is so hectic, the key thing is to keep them on the pitch.”

Connor Gudger is Brakes’ only doubt for tomorrow’s trip to King’s Lynn having come off with a groin injury against Merthyr.