Racing Club Warwick 2 Southam United 3
CHARLIE NEALE hit a late winner as Saints came back from two goals down at half-time to beat neighbours Racing Club in a dramatic Athium Midland Combination Premier Division encounter at Hampton Road on Saturday.
Neale’s last-gasp strike boosted Saints promotion bid and settled a pulsating affair in which Racing manager Lee Knight was sent from the dug-out by the referee for speaking out of turn in the second half.
Saints boss Luke Fogarty named an attacking line-up in a bid to get back on the winning trail after defeat at Nuneaton Griff the week before, but he was forced into a late change when goalkeeper Jim Stott pulled a hamstring in the warm up, with Matt Oliver taking over between the sticks.
Racing Club got off to the perfect start by taking a fourth minute lead when Myron Semper;s corner from the right was swept in unchallenged by Martin Crawford from the edge of the area.
At the other end, Ash Malhotra saved well from Brad Rees and a long throw from Neil Stacey was flicked on by Andy Millan, but the ball went straight to the Racing keeper.
Saints had another chance in the 15th minute from a corner, but the Racing defence scrambled clear.
A good block from Saints skipper Quentin Townsend denied Ricardo Richards a scoring chance, before Semper cut inside full-back Marc Passey and sent in a shot that Oliver did well to tip over the bar.
The home side doubled their lead after 26 minutes when a long ball cut out the Saints defence and Semper ran through to round Oliver and neatly finish. Saints tried to hit back and Simeon Smith fed Tunde Ajibade, who beat his marker to cross low into the area but, with the ball only half blocked, there was nobody following up.
Oliver then saved from Danny Charlton and the half drew to a close with Racing Club in charge.
Five minutes into the second half, another good cross from Ajibade fell to Stacey, whose shot was blocked and cleared for a corner from which Millan shot just over.
Saints reduced the arrears in the 53rd minute when Smith opened his account for the club, heading home Jack Taylor’s free kick.
Saints went in search of the equaliser and hit the post before being awarded a penalty as substitute Oli Manoochehri cut in from the left, only to be pushed when about to shoot.
Taylor made no mistake from the spot to score his seventh goal of the season.
Then, in stoppage time, Taylor sent in free-kick for Neale to pop up and grab the winner which put Saints promotion bid back on track.
On Saturday, Saints have a chance to go top of the table when they visit leaders Bolehall Swifts, who unexpectedly went down 2-0 to bottom club Walsall Wood. Saints trail by just one point and have three games in hand.
Racing, who entertained Pilkington XXX in a Birmingham County FA Midweek Floodlit Challenge Cup third round tie last night (Wednesday), visit Walsall Wood this Saturday, before travelling to Castle Vale on Tuesday.
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