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Wednesday 06 February 2013 Updated: 07/02 09:16
Leamington 3 Cinderford Town 1
BRAKES remain on course for the double after easing into the last four of the Red Insure League Cup at the New Windmill on Wednesday night.
But the Premier Division table-toppers had to come from behind to beat Evo-Stik Southern League Division One South & West outfit Cinderford.
There had been little to warm the 202-strong crowd before the visitors broke the deadlock after 27 minutes when Ashley Malcolm climbed well to head home a well flighted free kick from Matt Smith.
Brakes were far from their best in a lacklustre first half display but an interval rocket from manager Paul Holleran had the desired effect as they clicked into gear straight from the restart.
Stefan Moore had already hit the post before grabbing a 51st minute equaliser following good inter-play between Craig Owen and Ricky Johnson.
Brakes went ahead nine minutes later when Warren Archer handled Lee Moore's corner in the area and Richard Batchelor converted the resulting penalty despite keeper Alex Harris getting a hand to his effort.
Brakes relaxed their grip and almost paid the penalty when Keiran Thomas swung over an inviting cross to the far post from which tall Cinderford substitute Lewis Sommers saw his powerful header superbly saved by Niall Cooper.
But victory was sealed in stoppage time when Batchelor showed good strength to hold off the challenge of Archer before beating the advancing Harris with a neat finish into the top corner.
Meanwhile, runaway leaders Brakes chalked up a fourth successive Premier Division away victory with a 3-1 success at rock-bottom Kettering on Sunday to establish themselves as firm favourites for the title.
Midfielder Lee Chilton led the way with a stunning strike in each half to which Stefan Moore added as Brakes marched 11 points clear of second placed Hemel Hempstead Town.
Hemel did win 2-1 at Chippenham Town on Tuesday night to cut the gap to eight points but Brakes have two games in hand and complacency appears the only hurdle to overcome before being crowned champions at the end of April.
Manager Paul Holleran will be working hard to ensure his side do not relax their grip and Brakes were given a warning of what to expect in their remaining 18 league games as they had to weather a barrage of second half pressure from basement-boys Kettering before sealing a fifth consecutive league success.
Brakes opened the scoring after 24 minutes when Stefan Moore neatly set up Chilton who hammered a low 20-yard shot beyond home keeper Yannick Nlate.
Kettering almost grabbed an equaliser when Ben Ford thumped a free kick inches wide but Brakes responded through substitute Martyn Naylor, on for the injured Matt Dodd, whose powerful long range effort was turned over the bar by Nlate.
The home keeper produced another smart save to deny Moore just before half time but Brakes strengthened their grip five minutes after the break when the impressive Chilton continued his rich vein of form by planting a well struck 25-yard drive into the bottom corner.
Kettering hit straight back and Ford reduced the arrears with a tremendous shot which left Laurie Walker rooted to the spot as it flew into the top corner.
The home side piled on the pressure and Ford had another effort headed off the line by Liam Daly before substitute Joel Gyasi had a low shot saved at the second attempt by Walker.
Nathan Fox saw his cross-shot deflected inches wide of the far post, while Daniel Crowe headed a corner just over the bar before having another effort saved by Walker.
Brakes defended resolutely and held on to their slender advantage which was almost increased by James Mace whose header was turned onto the bar and over by Nlate.
But the points were wrapped up in the closing stages when a low cross from substitute Lee Moore produced a top quality back heel finish from Stefan Moore.
Brakes entertain Barwell on Saturday (3pm) before playing host to Bedford Town at the New Windmill on Tuesday (7.45pm).
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