RYAN Rowe’s third goal of last week helped Leamington see off a stubborn challenge from St Neots at the Premier Plus Stadium to move to the top of the Southern League Premier Division table, reports Paul Edwards.
The Saints may be in the wrong half of the table but they provided one of the toughest examinations of the season for Leamington by defending in numbers and frustrating their visitors although Rowe’s goal managed to seal a narrow 1-0 victory.
Brakes saw a lot of the ball in the opening exchanges but it was Michael Hyem who had the first effort on goal as his shot was blocked after St Neots won the first corner of the match.
James Mace connected with a precise right-wing free kick from the outstanding Richard Taundry, but was unable to get enough power on it to trouble Alex Archer and he was swiftly back to his defensive duties at the other end, getting a block on Tom Spark’s shot to deflect the ball behind.
Jamie Hood had to work hard to manoeuvre the ball out to safety as the hosts swarmed around the Leamington penalty area but he almost helped engineer an opening as his long ball was nodded on by Rowe for Baker-Richardson, only for Taylor Parr to nick the ball away with a well timed challenge from behind.
Baker-Richardson then threaded the ball across a crowded box for Ahmed Obeng to strike a first time effort that was quickly blocked, before Jack Edwards lashed in a stinging effort that was parried by Archer to Rowe, who could only slice over the bar under pressure.
Breeden saved a rare shot from James Hall at his near post, but it was Leamington who came closest to a first half opener when Thompson-Brown did well to dig out a low drive that clipped the outside of the post before being frantically cleared behind.
Edwards hooked a shot over when well placed from Hood’s knock down early in the second half, while Baker-Richardson did well to stab a shot on target from a tight angle despite the attentions of Hyem.
The goal finally arrived on 65 minutes, and highlighted the hard work being put in at both ends of the pitch. Obeng did well to win the ball back from St Neots substitute Ryan Hawkins deep in his own half and raced out of defence before playing a passing to Rowe down the left and he cut inside his marker on the edge of the box before curling in a well struck effort that nestled in the far corner.
Both sides continued to probe for goals in the time that remained, but Leamington continued to look more likely to add to their tally.
Substitute Tom James almost wriggled through inside a crowded area late on, but one goal was enough for Leamington as they finished a testing week on the road with maximum points.