BRAKES manager Paul Holleran walked away feeling pleased to have tested Hereford despite tasting defeat in National League North.
Two second-half strikes from the visitors rendered Leamington’s dominant first-half display pointless and extended their winless run in the division to four matches – following a 3-3 draw at Chester on Saturday.
Holleran says the outcome of the game boiled down to a number of factors, and said: “We really put them on the back foot first half and we’ve got into the final third in good areas time and time again.
“But whether it’s a case that we haven’t been clinical enough, or they’ve defended really well – [Josh] Gowling was outstanding for them tonight.
“So the disappointing thing then is that you could see that they stepped up the pitch a bit more in the second half and asked a few questions of us, but it’s two set plays, that’s what we’ll ultimately be disappointed with.
“We’ve just got to recover now, get some rest into them, hopefully a couple might be back for Saturday, and we’ll look forward to that game.”
The hosts enjoyed a great deal of early possession and forced a number of half chances, but no real efforts of note on goal to test Bulls keeper Brandon Hall.
Hereford were the first side to register an attempt on goal when forcing Jake Weaver to tip Jacob Cane’s ferocious strike over the bar – the highlight of the opening half.
Kieran Dunbar was inches away from connecting with Kaiman Anderson’s tempting left-wing cross at the beginning of the second half, but it was the visitors who were to draw first blood.
A free kick delivered into the Brakes’ penalty area was headed inadvertently by the returning Stephan Morley into the path of Peter Vincenti – who made no mistake when directing his header into the corner to break the deadlock.
The goal galvanised Russell Slade’s side, who doubled their advantage 16 minutes later from Gowling’s powerful strike after Jordan Nicholson’s shot had initially been blocked.
Leamington almost pulled a goal back when Kieran Thomas went close to heading into the back of his own net from Josh March’s centre, but that was as good as it got on the night for Holleran and his men.
In Saturday’s six-goal thriller at the Deva Stadium, March gave his side a 15th-minute lead, before Chester’s James Jones levelled things up three minutes later, while George Glendon was on target to put the hosts in front a minute into the second half.
Jack Edwards levelled the game for a second time, before Anderson struck what looked to be the winner with 12 minutes remaining, only for Matty Waters to snatch an 89th-minute equaliser for the hosts.
The Brakes turn their attentions to the FA Cup on Saturday (3pm), hosting Darlington.