FOOTBALL: A SIXTH consecutive victory in the Southern League Premier Division keeps Leamington top but they were pushed all the way by an inspired Hayes & Yeading United side under the new management of Richie Hanlon and Paul Hughes.
Since losing out to Slough Town on September, Paul Holleran’s side have picked up 22 points from 24 and now sit three points clear of second-placed Chippenham Town but it was by no means an easy contest against third from bottom Hayes & Yeading United.
Hanlon and Hughes had enjoyed great success at Kings Langley where they steered the Hertfordshire club from Step five to step three in successive seasons and quickly set about making their mark, introducing five debutants for the trip up the M40.
Ryan Rowe turned well inside the penalty area to send a shot bouncing just past the post early on while Hayes & Yeading new boy Mitchell Weiss beat his marker on the edge of the box and forced Tony Breeden into a low save to his left.
Leamington went ahead with 17 minutes on the clock when Rob Thompson-Brown delivered a dangerous cross into the six-yard box which was touched into his own goal by visiting skipper Tom Broadbent.
Jamie Hood had great chance to quickly double Leamington’s advantage but he sent a ball soaring over the bar on the volley as a corner landed nicely for him just outside the six yard box.
Another great cross from Thompson-Brown was glanced off the outside of the post by Courtney Baker-Richardson before the hosts increased their lead eight minutes before half-time.
Jack Edwards intercepted a pass before picking out Rowe who exhanged passed with Obeng inside the area before shooting low into the bottom corner of the net.
A dangerous corner into the six yard box from Thompson-Brown saw Obeng’s shot deflected behind, from which Edwards saw another effort blocked and James Mace headed just past the post as the home side finished the half strongly.
The visiting players had clearly taken in whatever was said to them by their managers at half time as they emerged from the dressing a completely different side.
Terence Carter somewhat fortuitously picked out team mate Mahlondo Martin inside the box who left both Richard Taundry and Hood on their backsides with some neat footwork before Josh Hutchinson drew a fine block from Breeden.
Thompson-Brown exchange passes with Rowe before testing Boness with a well struck low drive which the keeper held on to well. A lovely flick from the midfielder then saw him set up Baker-Richardson, but his effort lacked the power to trouble Boness.
Weiss forced Breeden into another good save before Rowe came close to doubling his tally with a diving header.
Hutchinson’s stunning strike drew an equally good save from Breeden as he arched to tip the ball over the bar and Manny Adebowale tried his luck from distance with a powerful effort that was arrowing towards the bottom corner which Breeden turned behind for a corner.
Obeng had shouts for a penalty turned down, Boness pulled off a fine block to deny Rowe in front of goal and Baker-Richardson saw his thunderbolt clip the bar but the two first half goals proved to be the difference.
Leamington: T.Breeden, R.Taundry (B.George 58), C.Gudger, D.Pond, J.Hood, J.Mace, C.Baker-Richardson, J.Edwards (J.Magunda 87), R.Rowe, R.Thompson-Brown (C.Gittings 76), A.Obeng
Subs not used – T.James, N.Olukanmi.