FOOTBALL: BRAKES returned from the long trip to South Wales with a well earned point following an entertaining 1-1 draw with Merthyr Town who on this evidence look to be a good bet to remain up with the pacesetters in the Southern League Premier Division, reports Paul Edwards.
Paul Holleran was forced to make a change to his starting eleven when Ryan Rowe picked up a slight groin strain during the warm up and he was replaced by Callum Gittings, with Courtney Baker-Richardson moving into the central position.
The home side were quickest out of the traps and took an early lead through Ryan Prosser, who slotted the ball home low off the inside of the post from Ian Traylor’s right wing cross with just five minutes played.
Merthyr were clearly up for the challenge and zipped the ball confidently round their artificial surface as Leamington took time to settle, but they dragged themselves level with their first effort on goal on 19 minutes.
Connor Gudger refused to give up on a chase for the ball down the left wing and dug out a superb cross from the touchline which was met by an unmarked Darren Pond at the far post, the midfielder keeping his eye on the ball and diving to head home his second goal of the season.
Brakes started to come much more into the game as the confidence from the leveller seeped through the team. Jack Edwards nodded the ball towards goal for Baker-Richardson to chase, only for Curtis McDonald to shepherd it back to keeper Glyn Garner.
A slick break from a Merthyr attack saw Thompson-Brown and Ahmed Obeng set up Baker-Richardson to place a shot straight at Garner.
The closest Merthyr came to threatening Tony Breeden’s goal again was when a Leamington defensive header flashed past the post, but the home were still well in the game as half time arrived.
The visitors were on top in the early stages of the second half without threatening the Merthyr goal but the Martyrs steadily began to regain the upper hand in patches as the game wore on.
Prosser’s shot was deflected into the side netting while Kayne McLaggon’s shot through a crowd travelled safely through to Breeden.
Obeng appeared to have been harshly penalised when Garner dropped the ball after claiming a through pass, leaving the Brakes striker to tap into an empty net, but he was left wondering what offence he had committed as a free kick was awarded to the home side.
Tom James replaced Thompson-Brown who had taken a knock in the closing stages, and almost fizzed the perfect diagonal ball into the path of Obeng, who was charging into the penalty area but both sides would have been happy with a point.