Chance missed but O’Neill is not too downhearted

Danny Newton spurns one of a host of clearcut opportunities for Leamington last Saturday. Picture: Morris Troughton
Danny Newton spurns one of a host of clearcut opportunities for Leamington last Saturday. Picture: Morris Troughton

Liam O’Neill is delighted there has been no FA Cup hangover from Leamington.

Despite following up their third qualifying round replay exit with a 2-0 home defeat to Stockport, the Brakes coach ranked the performance among the best of the season.

Only a catalogue of misses from strike duo Danny Newton and Stefan Moore and a goalkeeping howler from Neil Collett prevented the hosts taking any reward from the Conference North clash and O’Neill said the display was one to be proud of.

“When Stockport County come to town you’ve got to get the players’ mindsets right.

“You’ve got to make sure you’re playing the Conference North side and not the club’s history.

“We dealt with that last season with a win and a draw and we knew it was a winnable game.

“We proved a lot of doubters of late wrong with one of our performances of the season.

“We missed five gilt-edged chances but it’s the cliche that I’d rather have chances missed than not create them.”

A freak goal from Chris Churchman put County 2-0 up, with Collett allowing the midfielder’s long punt foward to drift over his head.

But despite Brakes moving to bring in goalkeeper Mats Morch from Derby County this week, O’Neill said the addition of the 21-year-old was not as a direct response to the mistake.

“Mats was made available to us thanks to Paul Holleran’s connections at Derby County. We had a phone call and Paul’s done the donkey work thanks to his relationship with (County goalkeeping coach) Eric Steele.

“Mats is coming in to gain experience and it gives us better competition for places.”

Morch made his debut in Leamington’s 3-0 Birmingham Senior Cup success at Boldmere St Michaels on Tuesday night in a match which also saw the second-half appearance of striker Ellison Porter.

Porter, who plays for Heather St John in Midland League Division One, has been training with Brakes for the last four weeks and O’Neill said the tie atBoldmere proved a worthwhile exercise all around.

“In the early rounds of the cup when a big side comes to town you often get kicked all over the place and the pitch is sub-standard.

“But on Tuesday night the pitch was lovely and they let us play and tried to play themselves.

“We should have won, they’re three leagues below us, but it enabled us to get runs into Jordan Goddard, Stuart Pierpoint and David McNamee which is good for the squad and it was also good for a few players lacking a bit of confidence.”

Goals from Stefan Moore, Jack Edwards and Goddard ensured Brakes’ progress and O’Neill admitted the absence of former Bristol Rovers midfielder Goddard, “the player who starts things off for us”, had been a big hole to fill.

However, while Goddard came through the cup tie unscathed, Danny Newton’s one-match suspension means Brakes will not be at full strength for tomorrow’s trip to Hyde.

“Newton will be a big miss for us, but we’ve got enough in the squad to go there and get three points,” added O’Neill.

“But make no mistake it will be a really tough test.

“They play better football than their league placing suggests.

“At our place, Hyde were well in it for 45 minutes.

“But, when you are where they are in the table, losing becomes a habit.

“Ou first goal sucked the life out of them and then we were able to put them to the sword.”