FOOTBALL: A SEVENTH home win in nine matches saw Leamington maintain their three point lead at the top of the Southern League Premier Division thanks to an entertaining 3-1 victory over Basingstoke at the Phillips 66 Community Stadium, reports Paul Edwards.
There had been some pre-match concern that Saturday’s encounter would be stern test for the Brakes against a Hampshire side who have picked up form following a slow start to the season and whose victory over Slough Town allowed Paul Holleran’s side to move top of the table.
Chances came and went for both sides before Ahem Obeng signalled his intentions for the afternoon when he raced onto a pass from Jack Edwards and dragged a low shot just past the post.
Obeng combined with Courtney Baker-Richardson soon after to produce an 11th minute opener. Baker-Richardson fired in a first time shot which was saved by Alex Tokarczyk but he could only parry into the path of Obeng who gratefully snapped up his sixth goal in gold and black.
Basingstoke responded Richie Whittingham testing Tony Breeden with a low shot that the Brakes skipper held down at his near post before the hosts scored a second on 24 minutes.
A routine clearance fell straight into the path of Rob Thompson-Brown on the edge of the penalty area and he had the vision to pick out Baker-Richardson with a delicate floated cross from which the striker executed a stunning scissor kick effort that flew past the dejected stopper into the net.
Obeng saw another effort blocked as he was played in by Ryan Rowe and Tokarczyk then did well to save Thompson-Brown’s low drive through a crowd of players just outside the box.
Edwards added the clinching third goal ten minutes into the second half after stooping to head home Taundry’s curling free kick at the far post.
The visitors looked to be in with a chance to respond quickly as Aaron Redford latched onto a short back header from Jamie Hood, but the striker miscued his shot so badly that it rolled out of play off the corner flag for a throw in.
Darren Pond touched a free kick to Connor Gudger to send in an inviting cross that Edwards missed by a whisker at the far post.
Leamington continued to probe for further goals, Obeng cutting in from the left again and seeing his shot blocked, while Baker-Richardson set up Rowe to clip a shot just wide of the upright.
A scrappy few minutes saw the visitors pull a goal back as substitute Aaron Jarvis fired clinically past Breeden as the Brakes defence hesitated.
Rowe saw another shot blocked and a Basingstoke free kick was struck into the arms of Breeden by Nana Owusu as both sides exchanged efforts on goal.
Obeng had another good shot saved after he blocked a clearance and advanced towards the edge of the box, but Leamington were almost home and dry by that point as continued their good home form with another victory.
<b>Leamington:</b> Breeden (c), Taundry, Gudger, Pond, Hood (Gittings), Mace, Baker-Richardson, Edwards, Rowe, Thompson-Brown, Obeng ( James 90).
Subs not used: Magunda, George, Olukanmi.