LEAMINGTON kept their fading Evo-Stik Southern League Premier Division play-off hopes alive with a comfortable 3-0 victory over Barwell at the New Windmill on Monday.
The impressive success extended Brakes unbeaten record to nine games but they are still six points adrift of the play-off places with just three games remaining.
Brakes opened the scoring after 13 minutes when a quickly taken free kick from Craig Owen caught the visitors defence napping and released Lee Chilton whose low cross was turned in from close range by Alex Taylor.
But, as so often this season, Brakes failed to build on their good start and it was another ten minutes before they threatened again. Liam Daly’s free kick was blocked but the loose ball fell to Chilton who blazed over from the narrowest of angles.
Barwell, who included a quartet of former Brakes players in their side, almost equalised two minutes before the break when an astute pass from Jai Stanley created a clear opening for Scott Hadland who fired over from the edge of the area.
The visitors were first to threaten after the break as Matty West set up Nigel Julien but his low drive was well saved by Nathan Vaughan.
Brakes doubled their advantage in the 52nd minute when Stephan Morley’s defence splitting pass released David Kolodynski who cleverly rounded advancing keeper Liam Castle and slotted into the empty net.
Barwell hit back and Stanley’s well flighted far post free kick was headed wide by the unmarked Scott Hadland, while substitute Thomas Weale saw an effort superbly tipped over the bar by the acrobatic Vaughan.
But Brakes wrapped up the points midway through the second half with one of their best goals of the campaign.
Morley started a flowing move, which included Owen, Kolodynski and Chilton, and was on hand to apply the finishing touch with a stunning left foot volley into the top corner.
Brakes had previously drawn 0-0 at Frome Town on Saturday which was a missed opportunity as most of their play-off rivals dropped points.
Injuries to key players meant manager Paul Holleran was forced into several changes with keeper Lewis Fenney and striker Lee Steele making their debuts, while assistant manager Lee Evans and coach Liam O’Neill were on the substitutes bench.
Fenney produced an assured performance, highlighted by an amazing double save at point blank range just before the break.
Brakes squandered a gilt-edged opportunity midway through the second half when Mark Cooper was harshly adjudged to have handled Liam Daly’s volley in the area but Steele blazed the resulting penalty over the bar.
Brakes entertain relegation-threatened Hemel Hempstead this Saturday (3pm).
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