TEN-MAN Leamington claimed a crucial point in their battle against the drop when Ahmed Obeng struck an 83rd minute leveller away to Chester in National League North.
Jordan Murphy’s sending off for two separate bookings gave the Brakes a mountain to climb, but they will be delighted with Obeng’s late intervention against the play-off chasers.
Brakes boss Paul Holleran brought two new signings into his side, giving Elliot Hodge – signed from Halesowen Town, his debut, whilst Billy Murphy, brought in from Burton Albion, came on in the final minutes of the game.
Colby Bishop had the first effort on goal of the game, forcing Grant Shenton to tip over his bar, before Junior English sent over a shot from a promising position.
Down the other end, Steve Howson finally got a headed effort on target after a slow start by the hosts, but followed that up with efforts from Anthony Dudley and Craig Mahon that were unable to beat goalkeeper Tony Breeden.
Murphy remained an outlet for inspiration for Leamington going forward before his early bath, and linked well with Bishop down the right-wing before whipping an excellent cross into the middle – unfortunately, his team-mates were not in space to anticipate it.
Joe Clarke’s deflected shot from a corner fell kindly into the gloves of Shenton as the game approached half-time, with Brakes showing real endeavour to battle for the ball across the pitch and engage in crunching tackles.
Reece Flanagan had the final chance before the break, almost putting the Brakes ahead when driving an effort past the far post, after meeting Murphy’s ball into him from the right.
Those missed chances would prove a big blow to Leamington’s hopes of three points, when Chester went ahead two minutes after the interval.
Matthews Waters clipped a low ball across to Ben McKenna, who duly found the bottom corner after Dudley had dummied the ball.
The Brakes did not relent though, and within minutes were back on the offensive.
A header from Bishop floated over the bar, before later setting up Hodge, who was unable to get his shot away.
Akwase Asanti was denied when he fired a deflected shot that looped up and into the goalkeeper’s gloves, also keeping out a powerful attempt by Mahon.
Murphy’s first booking of the afternoon was awarded when he challenged for a header with Mahon, but was deemed to have infringed the opposition player whilst contesting the ball.
The resulting free-kick was headed just over by Gary Roberts, denied again shortly after by Jamie Hood’s block.
A second yellow shown to Murphy after a challenge outside the penalty area looked a dubious one, but it nevertheless did not stop the Brakes from playing at a disadvantage for the rest of the game.
Chester threw numbers forward to try and grab a two-goal cushion, but what they were not expecting was Obeng’s shot that wrong-footed Shenton and crept into the net to the jubilation of the travelling support.
Leamington had to hold on during a nervy four minutes of stoppage time but saw out the draw, that will be viewed as a well deserved one given their efforts in the game.
It was a vindication of the words of Holleran in recent weeks, where he vowed to put an end to Leamington’s slow starts to games, and Saturday’s draw looked every bit the kind of response that he had hoped for.
The Brakes are seven points clear of the relegation zone, sitting in 18th, and host 14th-placed Southport at the Phillips 66 Community Stadium on Saturday (3pm).
Holleran and co. will be looking for a much better performance than the 5-1 thrashing that they experienced at Haig Avenue in January.