PAUL Holleran’s Leamington ended their run of festive fixtures on a sour note after a 2-1 defeat to Gloucester City on New Year’s Day.
The Brakes had previously won the reverse fixture at the Phillips 66 Community Stadium on Boxing Day 3-0, followed up with a memorable 2-1 success at Hereford, before slipping to a first defeat of 2020.
Gloucester began Wednesday’s clash on the front foot and looked to take an early lead, albeit with no clear-cut chances of note being created.
Brakes skipper Jack Edwards had the ball in the net with the first real opportunity of the game, although the raising of the linesman’s flag quickly cut short any celebrations.
The hosts were reprieved and used that fortune to their advantage to take a 22nd-minute lead – courtesy of Jack James’ swerving free kick that crashed against Jake Weaver’s post and in.
Marlon Jackson doubled Gloucester’s lead after lifting the ball over Weaver before slamming the ball home, while Josh Thomas threatened to add a third when he was allowed the space to blast a volley at goal from a corner.
With a two-goal deficit to chase in the second half, Leamington struggled to live with the hosts, who continued to enjoy the lion’s share of chances.
It was game on, however, when Edwards provided a glancing header at the far post from Stephen Morley’s left-flank cross to nestle the ball in the net.
Niall Maher was drawn into action to save from Dexter Walters as the revitalized Brakes found a new lease of life in the contest.
The number of opportunities became limited as the game drew towards its conclusion, with the visitors made to curse their luck when Edwards found the net for a third time before again being denied by an offside decision.
Referee Peter Shacklady’s whistle sounded for time to condemn the Brakes to a disappointing start to the New Year, one which they hope to bounce back from at home to Altrincham on Saturday (3pm).