FOOTBALL: ROB Thompson-Brown received high praise from manager Paul Holleran after he got his name on the scoresheet as Leamington secured a fourth consecutive victory in the Evostik Southern League Premier Division away at Basingstoke Town.
Early goals from Thompson-Brown and Ahmed Obeng wrapped up a 2-0 victory for the Brakes at the Ark Cancer Charity Stadium to extend their unbeaten to nine games in all competitions.
Holleran declared himself satisfied as Leamington negotiated another tricky hurdle to ramp up their pursuit of Chippenham Town at the top of the table, with the Brakes now just four behind the leaders with a game in-hand.
“Thompson-Brown scored another super goal, his work ethic and application was tremendous,” said Holleran.
“As a manager it’s fantastic when you see a player who knuckles down, doesn’t sulk and then responds, and he’s come back with a bang.
“Basingstoke play a possession based game and are very good at it, which means you spend a lot of time without the ball, so we’ve had to work really hard at that.
“We got off to a fantastic start and could have gone further ahead in the opening 15 minutes. We haven’t got too many options at the moment with a few little niggles but we managed the game well defensively and limited the home side to not one shot on target, so that side of our game was spot on.
“I’m just delighted we’ve got a bit of a breather now and some of the lads with little knocks and niggles can have a break.”
Brakes continued their relentless pursuit with their seventh win from the last eight games and yet another clean sheet as the outstanding back four prevented another team from having a single shot on goal over the 90 minutes.
Leamington fully asserted themselves inside the opening ten minutes, backed by a raucous travelling support who made full use of the excellent acoustics on the terraces.
Jack Edwards was somewhat dubiously adjudged to be offside as he powered home a header after three minutes, but this was rapidly forgotten as in their next attack Courtney Baker-Richardson set up Obeng with the opportunity to stab a low shot into the net.
It quickly got even better for the visitors after they extended their lead with just ten minutes played. Great closing down by Jack Edwards forced Marcus Johnson-Schuster into giving the ball away, allowing Rob Thompson-Brown to pick up possession, cut inside and crash a fizzing low drive beyond Alex Tokarczyk into the bottom corner.
Johnson-Schuster found space on the right wing to set up Aaron Jarvis who shot wide from a good position, while his strike partner Michael Atkinson was left in acres of space down the left but instead of shooting tried to play the ball across goal and it drifted harmlessly wide.
The Dragons looked like they might pose a threat as they broke forward at pace but they seemed to run out of ideas in the final third.
In truth there were few clear cut opportunities for Leamington after their bright opening spell, but they rarely looked threatened and were able to see out the game to collect another vital three points.
The closest either side came to a goal in the second half was when Edwards flashed a header across goal and just wide from a corner.
Terence Van Cooten cracked a decent effort just over the bar for the hosts towards the end, but Brakes were well worth their victory and can now regroup with a free midweek before welcoming Dunstable Town to the Phillips 66 Community Stadium on Saturday.
Leamington: T.Breeden, R.Taundry, T.James, D.Pond, J.Hood, J.Mace, C.Baker-Richardson, C.Gittings (J.Goddard 59), A.Obeng (B.George 88), J.Edwards, R.Thompson-Brown (R.Gregory 78).
Subs not used – J.Magunda, C.Gudger.
Referee: Mr Paul Johnson