Leamington 1-0 Banbury United
Evostik Southern League Premier Division
FOOTBALL: A GOAL from an unlikely source secured Brakes a priceless win over Banbury United in the Easter Monday local derby, meaning they can make the long journey to Weymouth on the final day of the season assured of second place in the Southern League Premier Division, reports Paul Edwards.
Jamie Hood’s 20th minute strike ended a three-game dry run in front of goal for Leamington and the central defender’s third goal of the season was just reward for his side’s early forward momentum in the game at the Phillips 66 Community Stadium.
Banbury had contributed to Leamington’s wobble over the festive period with an injury time winner on Boxing Day, but Hood’s goal here spelled the death knell for their hopes of gatecrashing the play-off places after a strong end to the campaign.
Moore was inches from breaking his duck since his recent return to the club in the opening exchanges, crashing a six yard shot against the bar as he picked up Hood’s header across goal from Richard Taundry’s right wing free kick. Prior to this Puritans keeper Jack Harding had held a looping header from Jack Edwards and a rising drive from Darren Pond.
It was from a dead ball in a similar area that the only goal of the game was scored, Moore picking up the ball as it was only half cleared, helping it across to Hood, who showed the composure of a striker as he crashed the ball home to the delight of the Harbury Lane End.
Former Leamington striker Ricky Johnson, who helped the club to the Southern League title back in 2013, began the game in central defence for Banbury, and Connor Gudger did superbly to get past him on the left before delivering the ball right across the face of goal, missing the in-rushing Courtney Baker-Richardson by a whisker.
Taundry’s curling free kick was finger tipped round the post by Jack Harding, and from the resulting corner Johnson appeared to use his hand to flick the ball clear.
Obeng spurned a decent chance for a second Leamington goal when his first time volley from Callum Gittings’ lofted pass forward flashed wide. Banbury came close when Johnson headed a free kick down and into the arms of Tony Breeden, and while the visitors’ substitute Sam Humphreys inadvertently headed another Leamington free kick back towards his own goal, the ball being held by Harding, Banbury screwed their only real sight of goal from open play in the first half high over the bar after a brief scramble in the Leamington box, Breeden unable to claim the ball after initially spilling it.
Chances were scarce in the second half for both sides, as the expected Banbury onslaught failed to materialise. Moore stabbed a shot just wide, before poking the ball through for a marginally offside Baker-Richardson to stab past Harding into the net.
Banbury came closest to scoring deep into injury time, Luke Carnell’s downward header skimming the crossbar on its way over, before George Nash ballooned a shot over the bar with the last kick of the game.
<b>Leamington:</b> T.Breeden, R.Taundry, C.Gudger, D.Pond, J.Hood, J.Mace, C.Baker-Richardson (R.Thompson-Brown 80), C.Gittings, S.Moore (K.Revan 90+2), J.Edwards, A.Obeng (J.Magunda 70).
Subs not used – J.Goddard, T.James