FOOTBALL: A VASTLY improved performance saw Leamington hold fellow Southern League Premier Division promotion chasers Chippenham Town to a 1-1 draw at a misty Phillips 66 Community Stadium on Saturday, reports Paul Edwards.
The festive period is rarely a fruitful one for Leamington and 2016 has been no different after picking up just one point out of a possible six, but Paul Holleran’s side looked much more like their old selves as they took on one of their rivals for the Southern League crown.
Chippenham frustrated their hosts early on with some well-timed blocks while players and fans alike were left frustrated when referee Ed Pidduck brought play back for a free kick after Courtney Baker-Richardson had kept his feet to stumble clear of two challenges down the right for a run at goal.
Baker-Richardson then set up Ahmed Obeng as he nodded down Taundry’s cross, but the striker’s shot lacked the purchase to trouble Chippenham’s former Frome Town keeper Darren Chitty.
The visitors had gone close when Taundry had cleared away from the goal line as the ball ricocheted around the Leamington box, but the Bluebirds took the lead in their next attack from Obeng’s shot.
The ball was fired in from the left, returned back into the six yard box from the right and that man David Pratt, who had scored the winner when the two sides had met back in August, was on hand to steer home from close range.
Magunda thundered a header wide from a free kick as Leamington continued to play with their heads, moving the ball around smartly at times.
Connor Gudger raced into space down the left, moving the ball square for Obeng, who helped it on for Baker-Richardson to drive a shot across goal and wide.
The same player was left wondering how he had not levelled things up in the final action of the first half when his powerful goalbound header was diverted away by a fantastic reaction save from Chitty.
Edwards’ downward header from a corner was saved early in the second half, but the goal that Leamington’s play deserved arrived.
Chitty could only parry a stinging low drive from Edwards, Gudger picked up the loose ball and digging out a perfect cross from the touchline that Baker-Richardson simply could not miss, nodding in from almost on the goal line.
Unfortunately Brakes were unable to build on that and find a winner, but the game continued to be an entertaining one.
Gregory was well off target with a free kick, while Matt Smith launched an ambitious effort towards Breeden’s goal from just inside the Leamington half which dropped onto the roof of the net.
Further efforts from Edwards and Gittings were saved by Chitty, while Taundry was set up for a vicious drive the rippled the side netting.
Breeden was only called into action once more, but it was an important save as he dived at the feet of Chippenham striker Pratt to prevent another potential last kick of the game calamity.
Leamington: T.Breeden, R.Taundry, C.Gudger, J.Edwards, J.Magunda, J.Mace, C.Baker-Richardson, C.Gittings, R.Gregory (R.Rowe 77), R.Thompson-Brown, A.Obeng (DPond 83).
Subs not used – B.George, T.James, N.Olukanmi.