LEAMINGTON head into Saturday’s clash against league champions Salford City stress-free after securing their National League North status for a further season.
Last Thursday’s 2-0 home victory over sixth-placed Chorley, thanks to penalties from goalkeeper Tony Breeden and Callum Gittings, was followed up with a 2-2 draw at play-off chasing York City on Saturday.
The vital points moved Paul Holleran’s Brakes six points clear of the drop zone with one game to spare.
It was a rollercoaster afternoon at York’s Bootham Crescent and, with scorelines elsewhere changing almost constantly throughout, there was difficulty keeping track of the potential permutations.
However, in the end it did not matter as Holleran’s men took control of their own destiny, thanks to a superb last-minute goal from substitute Matty Dodd.
It was clear to see how much confidence the victory over Chorley had installed in the players in the early stages.
Gittings drove a low strike straight at keeper Adam Bartlett while Aidan Connolly cut in from the right and curled in a low drive which Breeden was forced to push behind for a corner.
York skipper Sean Newton back-headed well wide from a left-wing corner as Brakes continued to frustrate their hosts, pushing them back into their own half from another attack with some fine pressing.
The hosts came close when Breeden made a superb save from Simon Heslop’s powerful strike, with James Mace well placed on the line to block the follow-up from Newton.
Leamington would hit the front two minutes before half-time when Gittings’ free-kick was put into his own net by the unfortunate Alex Kempster.
York began the second half with more intent and were level 11 minutes in when Newton slammed a loose ball home after Breeden had made a great save from Connolly.
The Minstermen’s No 11 continued to cause problems for Leamington, firing in another effort which Breeden held on to before David Ferguson crashed a shot high over the bar.
The Brakes skipper was called into action once more as he did well to hold a volley from City substitute Connor Smith.
Leamington were understandably starting to look a little leggy in their second game in less than 48 hours and Breeden was forced into another save from Newton.
With the packed terrace behind the goal baying for a second goal, they got their wish with four minutes remaining. Breeden made yet another fine save, this time from Adriano Moke, but was powerless to prevent Newton from heading in the follow-up.
Brakes were flat on their backs but they picked themselves up for one final push and were rewarded in spectacular fashion when Dodd rose with a defender to meet fellow substitute Liam Canavan’s left-wing cross and glance a header into the top corner to the delight of the 107 travelling supporters behind the goal.
Every single player ran to join Dodd as he wheeled off in celebration and minutes later it was mission completed when the final whistle went.