FOOTBALL: PAUL Holleran was full of praise for his side’s defence on Saturday as Leamington climbed out of the Vanarama National League North relegation zone.
The Brakes came from behind to secure a 2-1 win over Bradford Park Avenue at the Phillips 66 Community Stadium to secure their first home league win in six games.
In doing so, Brakes ended Bradford PA’s eight game unbeaten streak, denting their hopes of maintaining their place in the playoff picture.
An early stoppage in play following a clash of heads between Jack Edwards and Wayne Brooksby appeared to distract Leamington as the visitors took an early lead when James Knowles headed home Nicky Clee’s corner from the right.
Frustratingly, Leamington defended well following the goal as Jamie Hood stood tall in the air while at the other end Edwards saw a shot blocked.
Holleran’s men levelled the game on 23 minutes when Dunbar capitalised on some sloppy defensive play from the visitors to round Bradford keeper Steven Drench and steer the ball into the far corner.
The goal provided Brakes with the energy needed to press for another as Bishop saw his strike go wide.
Bradford were still in the mix as Clee’s low ball from the left evaded Oli Johnson’s foot by inches.
Connor Gudger felt he had a claim for a penalty shortly before half time when his run into the box was halted by Ryan Toulson, but the two sides went in all square.
The second half almost started as badly as the first when Hood and Junior English both allowed a harmless clearance to turn into a superb through ball for Adam Boyes.
He was denied twice by Breeden however, who got down very well to block low shots from the striker.
Rob Thompson-Brown then lashed in a vicious drive that Drench was unable to hold as Leamington looked more lively on the ball.
In an attempt to stretch Bradford in the closing stages, Holleran threw Ahmed Obeng and Curtis Revan into the game.
And the switch paid dividends when a penalty box scramble led to Obeng scoring with one of his first touches of the game.
Despite a ‘heart in mouth’ moment for Brakes fans in stoppage time – when a loose ball in the penalty area was cleared – Holleran’s men held on to secure a vital three points.
The manager said: “It was a great game, there was not much in it.
“You can see the quality Bradford possess – especially going forward – and the attacking options they’ve got.
“We’ve been a lot more solid defensively over the last few weeks so to concede from a set play in the opening few minutes was disappointing.
“The supporters need to see that we’re learning and improving, and we are.”
Leamington: Tony Breeden ©, James Mace, Connor Gudger, Joe Clarke, Jamie Hood (14 Richard Taundry, 71), Junior English, Kieran Dunbar, Joe Magunda, Colby Bishop (16 Kurtis Revan, 85), Jack Edwards, Rob Thompson-Brown (15 Ahmed Obeng, 77).
Bradford Park Avenue: Steve Drench, Mark Ross, Graham Kelly, Nicky Wroe ©, James Knowles, Ryan Toulson, Wayne Brooksby, Javan Vidal (14 Danny Boshell, 46), Adam Boyes, Oli Johnson (15 Adam Nowakowski, 85), Nicky Clee (12 Jamie Spencer, 65).
Picture: Sally Ellis.