LEAMINGTON made the perfect start to the new Southern League Premier Division season after a positive attacking display saw them open with a 3-1 victory over Cirencester Town at the Phillips 66 Community Stadium, reports Paul Edwards.
Brakes boss Paul Holleran named four of his summer signings in the starting 11while recent recruit Ryan Quinn was forced to settle for a place on the bench. Tom James was unable to take part as a suspension carried over from last season ruled him out.
By his own admission Ryan Rowe had a quiet pre season, but if his opening display in Gold and Black is anything to go by he looks a good bet to finish among the division’s top scorers.
He skilfully tucked away the first chance that came his way on five minutes after turning to lash a low drive in off the post after Courtney Baker-Richardson had flicked on Ben George’s throw in on the right.
Cirencester responded with a shot which cleared the Leamington bar but the home side looked lively, with new boys Rob Thompson-Brown and Ahmed Obeng buzzing around the visitors’ defence along with Rowe.
Obeng’s pace caused problems for Cirencester all afternoon and he slalomed into the box on the left before hitting a shot against a defender which fell nicely for Connor Gudger but his shot was blocked by a last ditch challenge which saw the ball behind for a corner, from which Rowe almost poked home while grounded.
Leamington extended their lead on 17 minutes with what will surely be a contender for goal of the season.
Baker-Richardson found Rowe on the left with a raking cross-field pass which the striker brought under control before cutting inside and curling a beauty wide of keeper Harvey Rivers and into the corner of the net.
The pace of the game slowed down at half-time progressed but Leamington quickly hit their stride again in the second half.
Thompson-Brown forced a save from Rivers with a well struck free kick before marking his debut with a well taken goal, accepting an unselfish pass from Rowe just inside the box before rifling a rising drive past Rivers into the roof of the net.
As Brakes were still celebrating the goal, Cirencester immediately pulled one back with James Mortimer-Jones heading home from close range.
Rowe fired a free kick over the bar as Leamington attempted to restore their three goal cushion but the visitors always posed a threat and they came more into the game in the closing stages.
Ollie Knight just failed to lift a shot over Tony Breeden, while Mortimer-Jones struck a good effort towards goal but it was directed straight at Breeden.
Substitute Lee Moore had a shot deflected behind but it was the visitors who came closest to another goal, Breeden making an outstanding save to deny Mortimer-Jones his second of the game as the midfielder latched onto the ball after substitute Charlie Griffin’s shot had struck the crossbar.
Leamington: Tony Breeden ©, Ben George, Connor Gudger, Darren Pond, Jamie Hood, James Mace, Courtney Baker-Richardson, Jack Edwards, Ryan Rowe (12 Lee Moore, 70), Rob Thompson-Brown (16 Richard Taundry, 88), Ahmed Obeng.
Subs not used: Ryan Quinn, Rob Elvins, Charlie Fitzmaurice