Northern exposure comes to a sad end

Leamington players, led by Jordan Goddard, troop off after relegation was confirmed. Picture Morris Troughton
Leamington players, led by Jordan Goddard, troop off after relegation was confirmed. Picture Morris Troughton
  • Ferriby draw confirms relegation

A 2-2 draw at home to FA Trophy winners North Ferriby United could not prevent Leamington sliding to relegation at The New Windmill last Saturday.

Wins for Stalybridge Celtic and Brackley left Paul Holleran’s side five points from safety with just next Saturday’s trip to Boston to come and means Brakes’ two-season stint in the Conference North is at an end.

It had looked so much more promising just short of the hour-mark when Nathan Hicks poked home the loose ball to put the hosts 2-1 up after Jordan Goddard’s free-kick had been parried by Jonathan Hedge.

With Stalybridge 1-0 down at Hednesford and Colwyn Bay also losing, Holleran’s wish to take Brakes’ survival fight to the final day looked like it might become a reality.

However, Jason St Juste pulled the visitors level in the 68th minute, with two goals in the final ten minutes from Stalybridge hammering the final nail in the coffin.

The visitors arrived at The NWG having shipped four goals in each of their four fixtures since lifting the FA Trophy, but despite Lee Chilton looking a lively presence on the left, there was little indication in the opening stages that the sequence would be extended.

An ambitious volley from Goddard drifted just wide of the far post in the fifth minute, while Danny Newton was also off target from range.

At the other end, Delroy Gordon stood up well to deny St Juste after a swift Ferriby counter and Bateson flashed a cross-shot acros sthe face of goal.

Brakes were dealt a blow when Chilton had to limp off with a hamstring injury in the 33rd minute to be replaced by Hicks and his loss was compounded a minute later when North Ferriby opened the scoring.

With Brakes still reorganising, St Juste produced a neat turn and cross for Bateson to chest down and shoot home via the far post.

An unusual passage of play saw Ferriby keeper Jonathan Hedge give away an indirect free-kick after claiming his own miscued clearance from a backpass on the byeline. However, no one could get a touch to Hicks’ driven cross.

Hicks drew a save out of Hedge at his near post as Brakes pressed for an equaliser and they were rewarded a minute before the interval.

Jack Edwards flicked on Richard Taundry’s long throw and as Hedge came to punch, Newton rose bravely to head home his third goal since returning from a five-match suspension.

The silence which had greeted Ferriby’s opener was replaced with a sense of optimism and the Great Escape looked a very real probability when Hicks poked home from close range after Hedge had pushed out Goddard’s driven free-kick.

However, Ferriby summoned up some of the pride boss Billy Heath had been calling for prior to the game, with Matthew Wilson flicking a near-post header just over before they levelled in the 68th minute, St Juste sweeping the ball home after a couple of ricochets inside the box.

James Mace had a header cleared off the line by Josh Wilde but an all-out assault on the Ferriby goal failed to materialise, with Ashley Worsfold not introduced until the 83rd minute.

As time ran out, Hicks lashed two efforts well wide of the target, while Danny Newton saw a goalbound header plucked from the top corner by Hedge.

But it was to prove too little, too late, with the final whistle and news of Celtic’s injury-time winner at Hednesford confirming the worst.

Brakes: Jonny Maddison, James Mace, Connor Gudger, Joe Magunda (Ashley Worsfold, 82), Jack Edwards, Delroy Gordon, Lee Moore, Richard Taundry, Lee Chilton (Nathan Hicks, 33), Jordan Goddard, Danny Newton. Subs not used: Jamie Tank, Bilal Yafai, Lewis Fenney.

North Ferriby United: Jonathan Hedge, Louis Bruce, Josh Wilde, Liam King, Matthew Wilson, Danny Hone (Mark Gray, 70), Curtis Bateson, Adam Bolder (Russell Fry, 74), Tom Denton, Jon D’Laryea (12 Ryan Kendall, 62), Jason St Juste. Subs not used: Tim Taylor, Tom Nicholson