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Wednesday 20 February 2013 Updated: 20/02 16:44
SUBSTITUTE Ricky Johnson popped up with a last-gasp winner to earn title-chasing Leamington a hard fought 1-0 Evo-Stik Southern League Premier Division victory at relegation-threatened Hitchin Town on Monday night.
The narrow success, which followed hard on the heels of another 1-0 win at St Neots Town on Saturday, erased the memory of the humiliating six goal defeat against Barwell and lifted Brakes eight points clear at the top with a game in hand over second placed Hemel Hempstead Town.
Hot-shot John Frendo, who had scored a hat-trick in Hitchin’s last two games, had an early shot blocked and Luke Gregson was just off target with a well struck effort.
Brakes enjoyed their best spell either side of half time with Lee Moore firing just over, while Lee Chilton had a fierce shot turned over the bar by keeper Martin Bennett.
Chilton and Richard Batchelor were both denied by Bennett after the break but at the other end Jake Woolly saw a 25-yard shot well saved by Laurie Walker.
Frendo, who was well shackled by Jamie Hood and Liam Daly, burst clear in the closing stages but fired over from a good position.
The clash was heading for stalemate when Batchelor delivered a cross which Stefan Moore headed into the path of Johnson who fired home from ten yards much to the delight of the travelling fans.
Brakes were far from their best at St Neots but a goal midway through the second half from Batchelor ensured they completed the double and returned with maximum points.
Brakes were forced to withstand a barrage of pressure in the opening 45 minutes with Wakler producing a string of fine saves to thwart Jay Davies, twice, Lewis Hilliard and Dan Jacob.
Brakes improved after the break and Stephan Morley had a powerful free kick smartly saved by Jack Giddens, while Chilton’s volley struck the underside of the bar before being cleared.
The deadlock was broken when Batchelor cut in from the right and curled a precise effort over the stranded Giddens into the top corner.
The hard-working Craig Owen twice went close to doubling the lead but Brakes survived a late scare as Hilliard clipped the top of the bar with a free kick.
Brakes entertain mid-table Chesham United this Saturday (3pm) before playing host to Arlesey Town in the Red Insure League Cup semi-final on Tuesday (7.45pm).
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