BRAKES’s 100 per cent winning start to the 2016/17 season ended on Saturday after they were beaten by a single goal away at Chippenham which saw the home side leapfrog their rivals into top spot in the Evostik Southern League Premier Division.
Paul Holleran’s men went down fighting at Hardenhuish Park having lost skipper Tony Breeden following two yellow cards and despite producing a spirited second half showing, they were unable to find a way past Kent Kauppinen in the Chippenham goal.
There had been precious little to record at either end prior to David Pratt’s solitary strike in the 33rd minute.
Thompson-Brown saw an early free kick blocked along with his follow up shot, while a dangerous low left wing centre from the same player bounced off Ahmed Obeng as he tried to control the ball.
Breeden received an unnecessary yellow card for kicking the ball away and from the resulting free kick some 20 yards out, Andy Sandell stepped up to curl in an inch perfect dead ball which Breeden flung himself to his right to push over the bar.
But the danger remained from the corner and Pratt capitalised, firing a low drive into the bottom corner to hand his side the lead.
The hosts were handed a further boost minutes before half-time when Breeden was shown a second yellow card after he had raced from his goal to try and beat Pratt to the ball close to the corner flag.
The Chippenham striker did not need a second invitation to go down and the referee immediately went for his top pocket, leaving Brakes a man light as Lee Moore was sacrificed and with no replacement goalkeeper on the bench, Rob Elvins came on and donned the gloves.
After the break the visitors rolled their sleeves up and protected Elvins to such an extent that his involvement in the game was minimal until injury time.
As the second half progressed Leamington began to grow in belief and started to put the hosts under sustained pressure.
Obeng won a free kick on the left from which Thompson-Brown’s delivery was glanced behind his own goal by Pratt before Thompson-Brown had two powerful efforts blocked on the edge of the box, and Taundry crashed a well struck long range drive into the arms of Kent Kauppinen.
A free kick looped into the box from Thompson-Brown dropped just past the far post, and Leamington were agonisingly close to an equaliser when substitute Courtney Baker-Richardson flicked a header past Kauppinen but inches wide of the far post.
The Bluebirds keeper then scrambled across his goal, only just keeping the ball from squeezing under his crossbar as Obeng’s cross ricocheted off defender Michael Pook and substitute Matt Jones preserved Chippenham’s advantage when he was in the right place to clear a thundering header from Jamie Hood off the line.
Pratt was very close to adding a late late second after nipping in behind the Leamington defence to go in on goal but Elvins did well to advance from his line and narrow his angles, and although Pratt lifted the ball over him, Hood was on hand to clear it away from goal.
The players were roared over the line by the travelling support towards the end, who clearly appreciated the effort that had been put in but now manager Holleran now has to solve a temporary goalkeeping problem however, with his skipper missing for a game.
Leamington: T.Breeden (c), B.George (C.Baker-Richardson 77), R.Taundry, D.Pond, J.Hood, J.Mace, L.Moore (R.Elvins 40), J.Edwards, R.Rowe (T.James 76), R.Thompson-Brown, A.Obeng.
Subs not used: J.Magunda, R.Quinn