LEAMINGTON sit just one place above the relegation zone after Paul Holleran’s side slipped to a 1-0 home defeat against lowly Blyth Spartans at the Your Co-Op Community Stadium.
Sam Hodgson’s penalty in first-half injury time settled the game with Joe Clarke sent off for the challenge that led to the spot kick before goalkeeper Callum Hawkins was forced off with injury on a day to forget for the Brakes.
The result means Leamington sit 20th in the National League North table, just one place and two points above the drop.
Brakes boss Holleran said: “We’re all well aware that is’t not good enough, I know it’s not good enough, the players know it’s not good enough, the points return isn’t good enough and the goals for column isn’t good enough.
“There’s only one way I’ve ever known to solve that problem and that’s by working hard and we’ll continue to do that.
“The game turns on its head in the 44th minute, it looked clumsy, the red card offence wasn’t for the penalty, apparently he [Clarke] said something to him.
“At this moment in time, no matter what we do, nothing is working for us, we’ve tinkered with the system and changed training routines.
“We have to breach the goal line, we’ve been sloppy and it’s been happening for a long time, it’s the cause of our problems because the defensive side of our game is strong.
“It’s just not going in at the moment, we’ve got lots of work to do, we’ve been in this position before, it’s tough for everybody.
“It’s massively important that the players stay in control of what they’re doing and stay focused on what they’re doing, we may have lost our focus with the scenario.”
Leamington spurned a host of chances to take the lead as Dan Turner was denied by Blyth goalkeeper Alex Mitchell before Jack Edwards’ effort was parried from close range.
And Dan Turner then saw a first time shot held by Mitchell before Liam Cross curled a fine effort inches past the post.
However, the game turned on 44 minutes when Clarke fouled Michael Spellman just inside the box and was shown a red card, believed to be for dissent rather than the challenge.
After a lengthy delay, Hodgson sent Hawkins the wrong way from the resulting penalty, finding the bottom left corner, to give Blyth the lead against the run of play at the break.
The visitors dominated with the man advantage after the break as both sets of supporters joined in applause for recently departed Cannock Spartans member Lee Hulme in the 54th minute, as they had before kick-off when Andy Jenkins, Ian Mitchell and Mark Davidson were remembered.
Hawkins kept Leamington in the contest when he made a superb acrobatic save to push Spellman’s venomous curling effort behind.
However, Hawkins then picked up an injury and was replaced after receiving lengthy treatment with James Mace forced to play in goal for the final half an hour with no substitute keeper on the bench.
The Brakes caused Blyth problems in the closing stages as Ollie Hulbert saw an effort blocked before Ben Usher-Shipway’s long throw ran through to Mitchell.
Leamington are next in action at home to Buxton on Tuesday, February 7 with kick-off at 7.45pm at the Your Co-Op Community Stadium.