GLOUCESTER City claimed a vital 2-1 victory at Whaddon Road to ease their own relegation fears while plunging Leamington Brakes even deeper into trouble at the bottom end of the Vanarama Conference North.
Saturday’s clash was always going to be a nervy encounter with so little between the two sides and while there was nothing for either to shout about in the opening exchanges it was Gloucester whose forward movements looked more threatening and they moved in front with just over 20 minutes played following successive corners, Sam Avery powering in a header at the far post that Jonny Maddison got a hand to but was unable to keep out.
The young keeper produced a superb double save soon afterwards to prevent the hosts from going further in front.
Richard Taundry fired Leamington’s first chance wide of the target before Brakes had a great chance to level on the half hour.
Jordan Goddard’s slide rule pass bisected the Tigers defence and found Lee Chilton inside the area on the right, but while the angle looked good for a shot Chilton chose to pull the ball back for Lee Moore, only for a timely block to end the move.
Nathan Hicks was left pounding the turf in frustration after Taundry won the ball in midfield, Moore playing Hicks in to prod the ball past keeper Paul White, but there was too much pace on the ball and it rolled out of play before he could control and shoot.
Adam Connolly curled a shot into the bottom corner to give Leamington an even bigger mountain to climb early in the second half but the large band of travelling Brakes fans, now behind the goal, continued to belt out their support for the team.
But Brakes were unable to create any clear cut chances against a Tigers side whose tails were firmly up, and they extended their lead further when Harry Williams, on loan from landlords Cheltenham Town, received a right wing pass from skipper Tom Webb inside the box and coolly stepped inside a challenge before firing past Maddison.
Ashley Worsfold, on as a substitute, took a pass from Moore before firing across goal, while Moore himself saw two shots blocked in a brief penalty box scramble, but Gloucester provided Leamington with some hope by scoring a 79th minute own goal, a defensive clearance crashing off Wright into the back of the net.
Tigers substitute Chris Knowles stabbed a first time shot wide as the hosts looked to exploit the gaps left as Leamington pushed forward, but they were caught out by the offside flag on several occasions.
There was a raft of late bookings as frustrated challenges began to fly in from the visitors, some of which may have been punished further on another day.
The disappointment of the afternoon was encapsulated in one moment late in the game however, when a corner wasn’t properly cleared, Bilal Yafai doing well to drive wide and get a cross in which spooned into the air, Worsfold somehow directing his header over the bar from a yard out.