Leamington succumbed to the tamest of defeats to slip out off the play-off places for the first time since the opening month of the season, writes Paul Okey.
Inih Effiong’s 24th-minute strike secured a league double for the visitors, with Brakes, fresh from drawing at Conference Premier side Altrincham, rarely looking like salvaging anything from the game.
With Jamie Hood and Jack Edwards both suspended, Joe Halsall was restored to the Leamington starting line-up, with James Mace and Jamie Tank forming the centre-back paring for the hosts.
The visitors had the advantage of a swirling wind in the first half and looked to take advantage as early as the second minute, with Tony Breeden needing two attempts to cling on to a hanging cross.
Michael King’s ambitious long-range strike was more comfortable for Breeden and after a low-key opening, Leamington had their first effort when Ben Mackey dragged a shot wide after good battling from Halsall.
Lee Chilton then played in the overlapping James Fry, whose cross was met by a first-time half-volley from Halsall which was off target.
Max York nodded well wide for the visitors before Brakes were almost handed a freak opener, Callum Lewis and keeper Ian Brown getting in an almighty mess over a dinked ball into the box. With Rob Ogleby awaiting the simplest of tap-ins, Lewis recovered to divert the ball away for a corner which was wasted.
Neat footwork from Effiong then created a small pocket of space 25 yards out and the striker’s sweet connection whistled just past the angle of post and bar.
At the other end, another overlapping run from Fry afforded Chilton the time to send in an inviting angled ball into the box which Halsall, at full stretch, just failed to convert at the far post.
Tank was unable to direct his header from a Richard Taundry free-kick on goal before Brakes conceded the softest of openers in the 24th minute.
Craig Daniel’s simple ball forward left Brakes exposed and Effiong outmuscled James Mace before sliding the ball past Breeden.
Soon after, Ian Rees had a shot deflected over, while Ogleby was unable to get anything on a header from a Ben Mackey cross.
But, anyone expecting a spirited response from the home side was left wanting as the measure of control they enjoyed before Effiong’s goal evaporated.
Despite their lack of attacking threat, Brakes should have restored parity a minute before the break when Mace got on the end of a Taundry free-kick six yards from goal. However, the anticipated net bulge did not happen as Mace directed his header past the post.
Mackey forced the first save out of Brown two minutes into the second half, turning well in the box and firing in a shot which the keeper claimed well at his near post.
Paul Holleran had seen enough and switched to 4-4-2, with Ogleby moving infield to support Mackey, but it was Breeden who was next to have his hands stung, with the lively Effiong running powerfully across midfield before fizzing in a shot from 25 yards.
With 20 minutes remaining, Mackey and Joe Magunda were withdrawn in favour of Ross Oulton and Lee Moore and the double subsitution almost had an instant impact, with Green played in on goal. However, his shot lacked conviction and Brown was out quickly to smother.
Brakes’ task was made even more difficult when Mace was handed a straight red card for a wild lunge on Chris Marsh which left the Waders substitute needing treatment.
The ten men were almost handed a lifeline when indecision at the back allowed Green to steal in, but again his shot lacked the power to beat Brown.
The home side were then appealing in vain for a penalty after Lee Moore’s sharp turn and shot appeared to strike a Biggleswade arm on the line.
As play entered five minutes of injury time, Breeden came up for a corner but Brown produced a strong arm to divert the delivery away from goal.
And the afternoon was summed up in the dying seconds when Fry and Breeden contrived to turn a home throw-in into a Biggleswade corner, denying the hosts one last chance to launch an attack.
Brakes: Tony Breeden , Ben George, James Fry, Joe Magunda (Ross Oulton, 71), James Mace, Jamie Tank, Rob Ogleby (Lee Moore, 79), Richard Taundry, Ben Mackey (Will Green, 71), Joe Halsall, Lee Chilton. Subs not used: Nat Kelly, Eddie Caviezel-Cox.
Biggleswade: Ian Brown, Max York, Mark Coulson, Shane Hill, Gavin Hoyte, Callum Lewis, Craig Daniel, Ian Rees, Inih Effiong (Chris Marsh, 73), Tony Burnett, Michael King. Subs not used: Connor Vincent, Sam Merson, Zach Tyrell, Lee Allinson