BRAKES returned to winning ways on Non-League Day with their second success of the Conference North campaign away from home as a stunning strike from Jordan Goddard secured a well deserved 1-0 victory at Stalybridge Celtic, writes Anna-Louise Adams.
A fine 4-1 home win over Gloucester City on Tuesday then maintained the momentum for Paul Holleran’s side as Stefan Moore fired a hat-trick to lift Brakes into seventh place heading into Saturday’s visit to third placed Barrow.
Jamie Tank got close to opening the scoring for Leamington on Saturday with a firm header that bounced just past the upright after a couple of minutes, while Neil Collett was forced to push a low drive around the post for a Stalybridge corner.
Celtic man of the match Lewis King made his first contribution when Richard Batchelor and Newton helped the ball into Moore who stabbed in a first time shot, but the keeper parried it well.
Liam Dickinson’s well struck free kick was then turned away by Collett as the hosts enjoyed what was their best spell of the game.
Brakes were finding plenty of space down both wings and Moore latched on to a good pass down the left by Stephan Morley, taking the ball around King only for the keeper to get a strong hand in the way to block his path.
In the 56th minute Dickinson was penalised for what the hosts thought was a fair challenge on Newton in the middle of the pitch, around 30 yards from goal, and Goddard stepped up to curl a fantastic strike around the wall and into the top corner past the despairing dive of King, as the ball pinged off the inside of the post into the net.
Collett made a routine stop from Ben McKenna as the Stalybridge number nine cut in from the right and fired low towards goal.
Substitute Matt Dodd almost beat King to a high ball under his crossbar as Leamington continued to search for a match-clinching second goal, but they did not need one, as they comfortably snuffed out anything their hosts could muster to pick up a welcome three points.
On Tuesday Moore opened the scoring in the 12th minute when he latched on to a pass down the left, before waltzing past City Mike Green and slotting the ball into the empty net from an acute angle.
Leamington were handed a two-goal cushion to take into half time when the unfortunate Mark Preece fired Goddard’s left wing cross past his own keeper in first half injury time.
Buoyed by the helping hand, Leamington extended their advantage three minutes into the second half as Moore outpaced the Gloucester defence to a ball played up the right, muscling past Preece and beating him for pace before curling a shot around Green into the far corner.
The visitors were not finished, however, and scored arguably the goal of the game eight minutes later when Adam Connolly latched on to a half clearance to loop a superb volley over Collett and under the bar.
The visitors were by no means disgraced in this match but the hosts had the greater cutting edge, which was emphasised when Moore completed his hat-trick in the 70th minute when Goddard’s driving run from halfway saw him slip a pass to his left for Moore, who produced with a sublime first time curling shot into the far corner.
Leamington’s Stuart Pierpoint (5) tries to threaten the Stalybridge Celtic goal. Picture by Sally Ellis. (s)