Leamington 0 Stockport 2: Profligate Brakes unable to make their chances count against County

Stockport keeper Danny Hurst and defender Jordan Fagbola throw themselves in the way of Stefan Moore's first-half strike. Picture: Morris Troughton

Stockport keeper Danny Hurst and defender Jordan Fagbola throw themselves in the way of Stefan Moore's first-half strike. Picture: Morris Troughton

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Two first-half goals condemned Brakes to a second successive Conference North defeat on a day in which little went right for the hosts, writes Paul Okey.

Reeling from the departure of Richard Batchelor, Leamington missed a raft of clearcut chances as their former Football League opponents’ goal led a charmed life, while also conceding a goal right out of the goalkeeping bloopers category.

Stockport’s sizeable away following swelled the crowd to a season-high of 855, leading to a lively atmosphere and the visitors were the first to get a sight of goal, with Kristian Dennis’ snapshot straight at Neil Collett.

At the other end, Matt Dodd got the better of Stephen O’Halloran to reach the byeline, but Danny Newton was unable to guide his cutback on goal.

Neat build-up from Leamington ended with a thunderous drive from Stephan Morley which was always rising too high.

The importance of the first goal in tight encounters had been stressed by manager Paul Holleran in the build-up to the game and it was Stockport who claimed it in the 11th minute with the softest of strikes, Spencer easily outmuscling James Mace to head home Jamie Milligan’s corner.

There was little response from Brakes as the game entered a lull, but Jack Edwards almost brought them level in the 25th minute when he showed good strength to hold off his marker in the box, but he could only lash his volley over the bar.

Little over a minute later, the Hatters were 2-0 up.

A promising move looked to have broken down when the ball was played back to midfielder Chris Churchman close to the half-way line. However, his hopeful punt forward was misjudged by Collettwho allowed it to sail over his head and into the net, leaving both keeper and goalscorer competing for the tag of ‘most embarrassed’.

Stockport almost made it three shortly after but Collett was equal to Spencer’s powerful shot, with the striker heading the follow up tamely wide.

Good tenacity from Lee Chilton set up a chance for Stefan Moore at the other end, but the striker’s first touch allowed Jordan Fagbola to throw his body in the way of the goalbound shot.

Heads were then in hands when Newton somehow guided the ball wide of the target from inside the six-yard box after Jamie Tank’s header picked him out at the far post.

Fagbola was again putting his body on the line after Newton’s deft touch had set up a shooting chance before Chilton wastefully sidefooted wide from the edge of the box after neat build-up play.

Brakes were sent out early for the second half, but it was Stockport who showed the greater urgency, with two flick-ons allowing Dennis to latch on to Hurst’s punt forward, only to slide his shot wide.

Leamington then began to realise it was not going to be their day when Newton ballooned the ball over from close range after Moore had beaten Hurst to an astute pass from Stephan Morley and unselfishly laid the ball across.

The home side felt they had two strong appeals for penalties after the ball appeared to strike defenders in the box, but they Newton miss appeared to have robbed them of the belief they could get back into the game.

Indeed, it was Stockport who came the closest to adding to the scoreline, with Dennis beating the offside trap and then finding the top of the bar with his measured chip over the stranded Collett and later hitting the post with a downward header.

Jordan Goddard, Aron Wint and Lee Moore were all introduced as Leamington searched for a foothold, but the nearest they came to pulling a goal back came late on when Newton was crowded out by a combination of goalkeeper and defender after an incisive through ball from Goddard.

Brakes: Neil Collett,James Fry, Stephen Morley, Joe Magunda (Lee Moore 85), Jamie Tank, James Mace, Matt Dodd (Aron Wint, 72), Jack Edwards (Jordan Goddard, 72), Stefan Moore, Lee Chilton, Danny Newton.Subs not used: Stuart Pierpoint, Liam Maher.

Stockport: Danny Hurst; Matthew Todd, Stephen O’Halloran, Mark Lees, Danny Gregson, Jordan Fagbola, Lee Stevenson, Chris Churchman, Kristian Dennis, Scott Spencer (Chris Sharp, 86), Jamie Milligan (Tunji Moses 74). Subs not used:Ian Ormson, Robert Lofthouse, Glenn Belezika.