A second game in less than two days proved a bridge too far for Brakes as they were steamrolled by play-off-chasing Stockport at Edgeley Park, writes Paul Edwards.
Three goals inside the first half an hour left the travelling support fearing the worst but the tide was stemmed in the second half with the Hatters only adding what looked a dubious fourth to their tally.
With two key cogs of the defence in Connor Gudger and Tony Breeden unavailable due to injury and suspension, respectively, Paul Holleran slotted Richard Taundry in at left-back, while goalkeeper Jose Veiga came in for his second start of the season, and endured a busy afternoon.
His first save came when Scott Duxbury drove a shot in to the near post but he was beaten inside the opening two minutes, Jimmy Ball crashing a low effort under his dive to put the hosts ahead and set the tone for a difficult afternoon for Leamington.
Matty Warburton turned on a right-wing cross but saw his shot blocked by James Mace before the same player was fed the ball in space on the left inside the penalty area, striking the outside of the far post with his shot.
Brakes were simply unable to cope with the intensity and pace of Stockport’s attacks and the first small spell of pressure they enjoyed resulted in Kieran Dunbar forcing a corner which came to nothing.
Rhys Turner sent another effort skidding past the post as Stockport surged forward once more, before muscling Taundry off the ball inside the box, with Veiga coming off his line well to claim.
It was Turner who bagged the second goal in the 19th minute. He was allowed to run into space having intercepted a pass out of defence and drove a low strike under Veiga and into the bottom corner.
Veiga saved with his legs from the same player before Brakes fashioned their first opening on the half-hour, Daniel Udoh chesting down just outside the box for Dunbar to strike a volley well over the bar.
A minute later the ball was in the Leamington net for a third time, Ball picking up another half-clearance to crash an unstoppable drive past Veiga.
Jason Oswell then struck the bar after seeing his first effort blocked.
Dunbar registered Brakes’ only effort of the half on target right on the whistle, but the second half began in similar fashion to the first, Oswell’s low strike held by Veiga at the second attempt.
Dunbar was mightily unfortunate to see his well-struck free-kick crash off the underside of the bar but this was as close as Leamington would come to a goal.
Hatters substitute Sam Minihan put his first touch over the bar from a quick break forward before Holleran threw on Liam Canavan and Jordon Sangha, sparking a brief flicker of improvement.
Jack Edwards headed down on the edge of the box for Canavan to volley well over the bar before another spell in the hosts’ half saw Sangha’s low drive held by keeper Ben Hinchcliffe, who enjoyed a very quiet afternoon.
The fourth Stockport goal looked a little dubious, with Duxbury appearing to be in an offside position as he slotted home the rebound after Oswell’s shot had struck the post.
Udoh’s tireless running brought little reward, leaving him visibly frustrated. A late effort was deflected towards goal, Hinchcliffe spooning it behind for a corner, but not even a consolation goal was forthcoming.
A miserable afternoon was compounded by all but two of the teams below them picking up points, placing even greater significance on the Easter weekend’s double-header against FC United of Manchester and AFC Telford United.