A GOALLESS draw at the Phillips 66 Community Stadium was how Leamington saw in their New Year against Brackley Town, as Paul Holleran’s side were left to feel relieved with a point.
A couple of changes from the weekend’s AFC Telford defeat saw James Mace replace Junior English at right-back, whilst Callum Gittings returned to the starting eleven in place of Joe Clarke.
Man-of-the-match Tony Breeden demonstrated his goalkeeping prowess when denying Shaun Jeffers from close-range inside five minutes, after poor defending led to the Brackley opening.
Breeden was not short of action and was excellent once more when outstretching to tip away James Armson’s effort, before seeing a penalty from Brackley’s Glenn Walker beat him, but not the post, striking the woodwork as the scores remained level.
Leamington’s best chance fell to Colby Bishop, who suffered an ACL injury in the same fixture last season, he saw his diving header rise over the bar with the offside flag raised – the best the Brakes could manage in the first-half.
The hosts grew into the second-half and were left to rue a golden opportunity when James Mace’s tempting cross evaded both Jordan Murphy and Bishop – the former crafting an even better chance when turning into space and firing low for goal, which Danny Lewis kept out.
Another promising opportunity went to waste when Connor Gudger forced a tame effort at the Saints stopper Lewis, whilst Breeden had to tip over James Armson’s bullet header to keep parity.
As Brackley asserted themselves as the central force in the game, the Brakes were forced to hold firm, but thankfully it proved a bad day in front of goal for the visitors as they were unable to decide the game despite numerous chances.
A point puts Leamington on 30 points for the season with 19 fixtures to play, ahead of a visit to Guiseley at Nethermoor Park on Saturday.
The Brakes will be hoping to avoid any last-minute disappointment this time around, following a last-gasp equaliser from Rowan Liburd denied Leamington all three points in the 2-2 reverse fixture in August.