A DEPLETED Leamington FC were thrashed 4-0 by Kettering Town as they conceded three goals in the final quarter of an hour on a miserable afternoon for Paul Holleran’s men.
Jordan Crawford opened the scoring after seven minutes before doubling his tally on 75 minutes.
George Cooper then struck three minutes later before Callum Powell’s 85th minute penalty added some gloss to the scoreline.
The defeat leaves Leamington in 13th place in the National League North table having failed to win any of their last six matches in all competitions.
And the game got off to a bad start for the home side when Matt Sargeant could only parry Alex Brown’s shot into the path of Crawford who finished from close range.
Leamington responded when Steph Morley tried his luck from a free-kick 25-yards from goal which was well-saved by Poppies goalkeeper Jackson Smith.
Despite forcing a number of corners, the home side were unable to seriously threaten the Kettering goal with Sargeant comfortably saving from Cooper’s header at the other end.
A superb block from a Leamington player kept the hosts in the contest after Connor Kennedy squared for Crawford in the penalty area.
The Brakes looked a different team at the start of the second-half as Kelsey Mooney latched onto a long ball over the top before cutting in from the left and forcing a fine save from Smith low down at his near post.
And Leamington were unlucky not to be level from the resulting set-piece as captain for the day Kyle Morrison clattered a header against the crossbar.
Sargeant then made a great save to keep out Cooper’s half-volley after he saw the ball late through a crowd of bodies.
The home side came close to a leveller again when Dan Meredith’s shot was blocked on the line by Connor Johnson as their search for an equaliser continued.
However, Kettering doubled their lead when a whipped cross was flicked on by Crawford and ricocheted into the roof of the net.
And the visitors wrapped up the points on 78 minutes when Cooper scored a stunning goal from 35-yards out to leave Sargeant startled in the Leamington goal.
Things soon became worse for Leamington when Meredith fouled Powell inside the box who stepped up to score the resulting spot kick despite Sargeant getting a hand to the shot.
Holleran said: “We were second best – there were enough people here today to see that. Kettering did what Kettering are very good at – they put the ball in good areas, and backed it up.
“Having Powell and Stohrer back in the side makes a big difference to them. We didn’t really deal with it, and probably came in at half time thinking we’d be happy with 1-0.
“We had a good period then for half an hour really where we were the better side. You can talk about Kelsey Mooney’s chance; Kyle Morrison’s chance; Dan Meredith’s chance – we don’t take them again – similar to the Chester and Bradford games.
“And then we fell apart at the end. I think it took its toll on us at the end. We’ve got five good players missing.
“I’m well aware the group needs more – we’ve done a deal this week with a good player from League 1, it’s all been sorted, but sadly he’s part of a Covid batch, so we won’t have him until next week now.”
Leamington are next in action away at Gloucester City on Boxing Day with kick-off at 3pm at Meadow Park.