LEAMINGTON were left stunned after they conceded two late goals to slip to a 2-1 defeat against an Aston Villa XI in their final home pre-season fixture.
The Brakes looked set for victory after Dan Turner put the home side ahead at the break only for two goals at the death to deny Paul Holleran’s side an impressive victory at the Your Co-Op Community Stadium.
In scorching conditions, Leamington made a fast start when Turner saw the ball cleared at his feet by Villa goalkeeper James Wright before Simeon Maye blocked Caleb Chukwuemeka’s fierce effort.
And Kieran Cook then forced a good save from Wright at his near post with a low snapshot from just outside the penalty area.
Leamington remained patient in possession despite Villa’s high press and almost made the breakthrough when Jack Edwards headed over from Dan Meredith’s cross from the right.
And just before the first drinks break, Leamington’s trialist goalkeeper made a smart save to keep out Declan Frith’s powerful effort.
Villa’s sole first-team representative Anwar El Ghazi then sent the Brakes keeper scampering across his goal with a venemous effort that went wide of the far post.
However, Turner put Leamington ahead on 39 minutes when he slammed the ball home on the turn after Edwards flicked on a long throw from the left.
Leamington’s trialist keeper made a stunning save on the stroke of the half time to divert Chukwuemeka’s attempted lob over the bar.
The Brakes almost doubled their lead when the home side’s trialist substitute won a corner from which Jack Lane thumped a header against the post.
And Junior English, another second-half change, then went close when he latched onto a long clearance before shooting just wide.
However, just as Leamington looked set to close out the game, Meredith was adjudged to have fouled Kaden Young in the box in the final minute with the referee pointing to the spot.
Despite Meredith’s protests, Brad Wright stepped up to fire the resulting penalty low past the goalkeeper and draw Villa level.
The visitors almost snatched a winner when Wright danced through the Leamington defence only for the keeper to make a sensational stop at his near post.
However, Villa would not be denied a second time as Young bent a fantastic shot into the top corner in the second minute of time added on to steal a late victory.
Holleran said: “It was really tough. I think it was a good decision from both clubs to bring the kick off back to one o’clock.
“I thought the quality of the game was really good – probably similar to Coventry and Walsall – the way they try to play through the pitch and make you work hard, but I thought we dealt with most of that and we looked a threat all afternoon.
“There were some really good individual performances. I just think that probably because of the heat at the end we just ran out of bodies. There were a lot of blisters, tired legs, and we were making that many changes at the end.
“We were just out of shape in the last 10 to 15 minutes and we never really got hold of the ball, and they’ve gone up the pitch and got two late goals. It was a really good workout though.”