Brakes tough it out against Bideford

Matty Dodd is brough crashing down to earth against Bideford. Picture: Mike Baker MHLC-15-12-12 Brakes Bideford Dec48
Matty Dodd is brough crashing down to earth against Bideford. Picture: Mike Baker MHLC-15-12-12 Brakes Bideford Dec48


Brakes scraped a full-bloodied encounter on Saturday to bounce back from their defeat at St Albans, writes Paul Edwards.

James Husband’s first goal of the season turned the game after the visiting Robins had plundered a first-half lead which was then cancelled out by Matt Dodd’s penalty.

Last season’s South & West Division champions came into the game on the back of a four-match unbeaten run which had seen them topple Hemel and St Albans and it was clear from the early stages they would be no pushovers.

Despite the usual strong opening from Leamington it was the visitors who had the first real chance of the game when Sean Downing pounced on a loose back-pass to drive a shot just wide of the far post.

Sean Joyce’s side snatched the lead in the 25th minute when Kevin Squire latched on to a half-clearance and stabbed a shot through a crowded penalty area to beat Niall Cooper.

Tom Berwick hit the side netting as Brakes tried to retaliate, but they were not being allowed to settle by the visitors, who were contesting every ball and decision made.

The route back into the game came via the award of a penalty, defender Ian Sampson penalised for handball as he went up for a cross with Berwick. Dodd stepped up to calmly send Paul Hider the wrong way from the 12 yards for his sixth goal of the season.

There was another chance for Downing before half-time as Leamington struggled to clear their lines again, but Cooper was able to claim the ball easily.

The second half contained far more incident to keep the 429 inside the New Windmill Ground entertained.

Neat skill from Lee Chilton on the right saw the ball flashed across goal but, with nobody to add the finishing touch, Bideford broke quickly and once more Downing was the man in front of goal. This time he had an almost empty net to aim at, but from nowhere Liam Daly appeared to divert the ball over the bar leaving the youngster with his head in his hands once more.

The game was swinging from end to end and Chilton failed to get his header on target from Husband’s cross.

The next attack saw Brakes move in front, however. Dodd’s low ball was left by Berwick and Husband took a touch before curling a shot around Hider and into the far corner.

Richard Batchelor was unfortunate not to extend the lead with a first-time shot from a half-clearance but Aaron Harper-Penman was handily positioned to divert the ball over.

The visitors, who had been happy to eat up the seconds while in front were now displaying more urgency and continued to cause plenty of problems for Leamington.

Cooper got down well to scramble a header round the post, and then to push another away from the resulting corner.

There were a few niggly flashpoints leading to bookings before Cooper saved again from Downing’s low shot, while Husband was desperately unlucky not to double his tally when he flicked the ball across goal from the touchline only for it to strike the far post and bounce into the grateful arms of Hider.

Downing blasted a shot over for Bideford and the visitors came much closer when a free-kick whistled just past the far post.

Substitute Craig Owen almost made the closing minutes more comfortable for Leamington when he cracked a powerful shot towards goal from the edge of the area that took Hider by surprise, but the Robins’ keeper did very well to adjust his footing and divert the ball over the bar.

Brakes: Niall Cooper, James Mace, Stephan Morley, Joe Magunda, Jamie Hood, Liam Daly, Matt Dodd, James Husband (Alex Taylor, 78), Lee Chilton, Tom Berwick (Lee Moore, 76), Richard Batchelor (Craig Owen, 73). Subs not used: Martyn Naylor, Dan Ward.

Bideford: Paul Hider, Ian Sampson, Nick Barker, Jack Furzer (Connor Clifford, 75), Rob Farkins, Aaron Harper-Penman, Matt Hockley, Sean Downing, Kevin Squire, Matt Andrew, Ellis Laight. Subs not used: Dominic Rivans, James Richard, Matt Rickard