Saints alive! First league defeat in 27 for Brakes

Stephan Morley challenges for possession with St Albans' Chris Henry. Picture: Sally Ellis
Stephan Morley challenges for possession with St Albans' Chris Henry. Picture: Sally Ellis


Leamington’s long unbeaten Southern League run finally came to an end last Saturday as they crashed to defeat at St Albans, who grew in confidence as the game wore on, writes Paul Edwards.

The returning Craig Owen saw a shot blocked on the edge of the area as he latched on to Ricky Johnson’s knock-down, but it was the home side who threatened goal first when Chris Henry forced Niall Cooper into a smart save with his legs.

The diminutive right winger caused problems all afternoon with his pace and movement, and set up the opening goal with a run in from the wing in the 16th minute which was finished off at the near post by Simon Martin.

The goal saw Leamington lose some of their early zip and there was a further blow just before the half-hour when Ricky Johnson was forced off with an ankle injury after an unfortunate collision with James Mace inside the St Albans penalty area.

It was Mace who headed over but Johnson came off worse and had to be replaced by Tom Berwick.

Martin spurned the chance to double the lead when he was played clear on goal, firing wide of the post after waiting unsuccessfully for Cooper to commit himself.

Saints were being allowed too much time on the ball in both halves of the pitch, but they were indebted to Jupp when he flung himself across goal to keep out a well-struck free-kick from Martyn Naylor which appeared destined for the top corner.

This proved to be even more important when the lead was extended moments later, David Ijaha driving in low from the edge of the area after Leamington had failed to clear a free-kick.

Jupp then excelled again, beating away a powerful shot from Berwick after he was picked out by an astute pass from Lee Chilton.

Berwick appeared to be shoved aside as he battled for possession in the box with Moussa Diarra early in the second half, and there was a suspicion of handball as Mace headed towards the near post from the corner.

Liam Daly then headed onto the bar and over.

There was a scare at the other end before Stephan Morley drove a shot wide, but Brakes were not getting much change out of a St Albans back line that, like the rest of the team, was oozing confidence.

The hosts made the game safe when Matt Taylor raced clear to round Cooper and slot home just past the hour.

Former Fulham striker Barry Hayles should have made it four but narrowly failed to connect with a dangerous ball across goal, while Chilton had Jupp scrambling at 
the other end when his first-time drive on the turn flashed narrowly wide.

Lee Moore did well to set up Berwick for a sidefoot effort that was straight at Jupp but Leamington, for the first time this season, were well beaten on the day.

St Albans City: Nick Jupp, Chris Seeby, Ryan Watts, David Ijaha, Curtis Ujah, Moussa Diarra, Chris Henry, Matt Taylor (Layne Eadie, 88), Barry Hayles (Tremayne Charles, 77), Simon Martin (Giovanni Lee-Baptiste, 90), Richard Graham. Subs not used: James Kaloczi, Jean-Phillippe Kima.

Brakes: Niall Cooper, Martyn Naylor, Stephan Morley, Joe Magunda, James Mace, Liam Daly, Matt Dodd, Craig Owen (Lee Moore, 61), Lee Chilton, Ricky Johnson (Tom Berwick, 28), James Husband (Alex Taylor, 61). Subs not used: Sam Adkins, Dan Ward.