A MUCH improved performance saw Leamington bounce back from their disappointing FA Cup defeat at Highgate by drawing 1-1 at home to Weymouth in the Southern League Premier Division, reports Paul Edwards.
Brakes boss Paul Holleran will have demanded a response and he got that at the Phillips 66 Community Stadium on Saturday, although the home sides were left frustrated as Weymouth snatched a share of the spoils with a last minute penalty.
New loan signing Zak Lilly went straight into the starting line up, while Tom James was handed his first start of the season in place of the suspended Connor Gudger and both Richard Taundry and Courtney Baker-Richardson returned to the squad after injury.
Tony Breeden saved a low drive from Billy Lowes early on and Rob Thompson-Brown fired a free kick just over the bar as both teams opened brightly, but it was Leamington who seized the advantage on 19 minutes.
Ahmed Obeng wriggled clear of challenges on the left, firing the ball low into the box where it was flicked into the path of Ryan Rowe, who threaded a shot through a crowded penalty area past Dan Thomas into the net.
The visitors forced another save from Breeden when Aaron Rodriguez set up Lowes for another daisy cutter which was directed straight at Breeden.
Leamington thought they were inches from doubling their lead when after a scramble in the Weymouth area Obeng’s shot was somehow blocked by Thomas, but the offside flag had been raised.
Lilly had been bought in by Holleran to boost attacking options, and the AFC Telford United youngster almost capped an impressive debut with a fine goal, rattling the Terras crossbar with a thunderous first time strike.
Breeden saved another goalbound effort from Ben Thomson early in the second half, but Brakes squandered a good opportunity to add to their tally when Obeng wriggled into the box to poke the ball through to Rowe, who in turn set up Lilly to snatch at a first time shot that flew well over.
The visitors started to come into the game a little more as time wore on, and came very close to levelling when Calvin Brooks powered in a header from a corner, forcing James Mace to head off the line.
Jack Edwards sent a diving header a whisker wide of the upright from a Leamington corner after escaping the attentions of Stephane Zubar.
Weymouth had three attempts on goal before they got their break in the final minute of normal time, Brooks going to ground in the penalty area as Jamie Hood and Mace attempted to challenge. Charlie Davis stepped up and rifled the spot kick into the roof of the net.
There was one last chance for Leamington to snatch a winner in injury time as they piled forward, Thomas parrying a free kick into the path of Hood, whose close range shot was somehow deflected behind by a grounded Mark Cooper.
Leamington: T.Breeden (c), B.George, T.James, D.Pond, J.Hood, J.Mace, Z.Lilly (J.Magunda 63), J.Edwards, R.Rowe, R.Thompson-Brown (C.Baker-Richardson, 84), A.Obeng.
Subs not used – R.Taundry, R.Quinn, L.Moore