Brakes may have made the long trip north to no avail as title-chasing AFC Fylde came out on top on a foul evening in Lancashire, but they did not disgrace themselves against a side Paul Holleran described as “the best we have played this season”.
The departure of striker Stefan Moore saw changes to the starting line-up while, with Ross Atkins and Connal Trueman both unavailable, Lewis Fenney was quickly re-signed, putting in a superb performance at very short notice, writes Paul Edwards.
Fenney made two early saves from headers on what was to be a busy night for the young keeper.
Fylde tried to press home their early dominance but were thwarted by some stout Leamington defending and Brakes slowly began to work themselves into the game.
Lee Chilton had a powerful shot blocked but this was to be his last contribution as he pulled up sharply soon after with a hamstring problem and was replaced by Matt Dodd.
Fenney made another good stop from Josh Wilson, diving low to his left to keep out a shot that was heading inside his near post, while there was another near-miss for the hosts as an effort was scrambled off the line.
Leamington’s line of resistance was finally broken with just under ten minutes of the half remaining.
Fenney came off his line for a corner but was unable to claim the ball, with Josh Langley taking it wide of him before slotting into an empty net.
To his credit, the keeper did not let it affect him, making another good save from Lloyd soon afterwards.
It was a much more even contest after the interval, with Danny Newton flashing a header wide from the edge of the area. Jordan Goddard fired wide and then won a free-kick when his strong run was halted just outside the box. However, his well-struck effort was straight at Coasters keeper Ben Hinchcliffe.
Just as Leamington looked to be gaining a foothold in the game they were hit by a sucker punch just past the hour.
Danny Rowe picked up the ball some distance from goal and drifted past a challenge before driving in a powerful shot that beat Fenney all ends up.
Fylde thought they had a third when Lloyd’s cross was put in from close range by Richie Allen but he was denied by an offside flag.
The same two players combined again for what looked like a certain goal but Allen somehow contrived to put his shot wide when it looked easier to score.
Newton curled a good effort just wide while at the other end Fenney was called into action again, pushing another well-struck effort from Langley behind, the same player heading just wide from the resulting corner.
Jamie Tank’s far-post header from a free-kick then caused problems for Hinchcliffe, the keeper spilling the ball out for a corner.
Brakes were looking more threatening and dragged themselves back into the game with ten minutes remaining when Morley’s cross was not held by Hinchcliffe, Goddard latching on to the loose ball just inside the box to fire it into the net.
Brakes were frustrated in their efforts to fashion an equaliser, however.
Fenney made a fine one-handed save to keep out Allen’s well-struck curling drive, but the home side struck again in the final minute, Lloyd heading in from close range after the Brakes keeper had done well to block Wilson’s shot.
The scorer looked suspiciously offside but the referee overruled his assistant’s flag and the goal stood.
Brakes: Lewis Fenney, James Mace, Stephan Morley , James Fry, Jamie Tank, Delroy Gordon, Lee Moore, Jordan Goddard, Danny Newton, Jack Edwards (Joe Magunda, 80), Lee Chilton (Matt Dodd, 28). Subs not used: Aron Wint, Luke Connolly, Martyn Naylor.
AFC Fylde: Ben Hinchcliffe, Caspar Hughes, Adam Sumner, Josh Langley, Tom Hannigan, Brad Barnes, Joe Booth (Michael Potts, 76), Josh Wilson, Danny Rowe, Danny Lloyd, Richie Allen. Subs not used: Craig Dootson, Luke Denson, Liam Tonsett, Cory Bent.