Stratford Town 0 Leamington 2
Southern League Premier
Match report by Colin Stoner
THERE’S no magic formula to becoming promotion challengers but there are certain boxes to tick.
A granite defence. A hard-working midfield. Power and pace up-front. A proven goalscorer.
For Leamington manager Paul Holleran, the boxes are being ticked and Bank Holiday Monday’s commanding victory at neighbours Stratford kept the Brakes firmly in the top three.
Two first-half goals from Ryan Rowe – a looping header and a superbly-taken swivel and shot – settled the points but it was the all-round performance which pleased manager Paul Holleran.
Jamie Hood marshalled the defence imperiously and when Stratford got one of their rare shots on goal keeper Tony Breeden tipped over a close-range effort from Edwin Ahenkorah.
Powerhouse Joe Magunda and Darren Pond screened the defence to snaffle out any attacks before they amounted to anything, and up-front the effervescent Obeng and Jack Edwards complemented the master finisher Rowe.
Summer signing Rowe has had the happy knack of being in the right place at the right time throughout his career and that was again the case to give Leamington the lead on 23 minutes.
Town had started the brighter, with Guy Clark heading over and Breeden diving at the feet of Kieren Westwood, but Leamington went ahead from their first real attack.
Ben George pinged over an inviting deep cross from the right and Rowe got ahead of his marker to direct a looping header beyond keeper Niall Cooper.
Jack Edwards and former Town player Robbie Thompson-Brown threatened a second and it duly came on the stroke of half-time.
It was simply a stunning finish from Rowe. A free-kick came in from the left and the striker took control, shimmied one way, switchd the ball to the right to leave his marker flat-footed and smash home a brilliant second.
Stratford needed to start the second half to peg back the Brakes and though had more and more of the ball they couldn’t find a way through.
Instead wide player Obeng was the Brakes’ outlet to push forward on the counter-attack. He cut in from the left but dragged his shot just wide and then crossed from the left, only for substitute Lee Moore to head over from six yards.
Victory leaves Leamington in third place, one point behind leaders Chippenham Town. As Holleran suggests, so far, so good.
LEAMINGTON: Breeden, George, Hood, Mace, Gudger; Magunda (Elvins, 73), Pond; Thompson-Brown, Edwards; Obeng (James, 58); Rowe (Moore, 70). Subs not used: Quinn, Gwilliams.