PAUL Holleran says a slump in concentration levels either side of half-time cost Leamington dearly in Saturday’s 3-0 defeat at Guiseley.
The Brakes went behind to Andrai Jones’ opener in the third minute of first-half stoppage time, a deficit that was increased four minutes after the restart by Kaine Felix.
A Jamie Spencer penalty in the 91st minute of play then rubber-stamped a 15th defeat in National League North this term for Leamington – who drop to 17th place.
Holleran lamented the inability of his defence to properly clear the ball prior to the opening goal at Nethermoor Park, and took additional displeasure from the lack of urgency at the beginning of the second half.
“We looked nice and solid and then 48 minutes into the half, we had at least two chances to clear our lines and we didn’t,” said Holleran in reference to Guiseley’s first of the game.
“It’s a ball we should have dealt with better, but we found ourselves one-nil down against the run of play.
“It then took us five minutes to get going in the second half. To be honest, we looked leggy – particularly in the middle of the park.
“There were periods of the game where Guiseley just had more energy in the tank.
“We had spells and our moments where we had several chances to get one back, but we just looked a bit flat.”
An early injury to defender James Mace provided the first negative of the afternoon for the Brakes after the 35-year-old twisted his knee, an incident that required Dan Meredith to be brought into the fray.
Jake Weaver did well with the first save of the day to deny Chris Sang from close range following the hosts’ first corner, while opposite number Hamza Bencherif stood firm to prevent Kaiman Anderson from finding the net for Leamington.
With no further chances of note, the two sides appeared to be heading into the dressing rooms with the scoreline still goalless.
That was until Gabriel Johnson was gifted the space to lift a hopeful ball into the penalty area which was flicked home by Jones, who felt the full force of the onrushing Jake Weaver after guiding the ball home.
It gave the hosts the incentive to build on their lead, something which they did moments into the second half through Felix’s swerving strike into the far corner of the net from Prince Ekpolo’s right-wing cross.
Leamington eventually started to show shoots of recovery as Joe Parker’s low strike was batted away by the legs of Guiseley ‘keeper Brad Wade – the same player going closer still with an effort that clattered against the post following good link-up with Anderson.
Felix was again the man at the centre of all of Guiseley’s good play, finding himself through on goal once again only to be denied by the outstretched glove of Weaver.
The final blow was delivered in the first minute of stoppage time to add further woe to the Brakes’ afternoon, after Spencer picked himself up from a foul inside the box to dispatch from 12 yards.
A West Midlands derby gives Holleran’s Brakes all of the incentive required to get back to winning ways when Kidderminster Harriers visit the Phillips 66 Community Stadium on Saturday in a 3pm kick-off.
The Harriers, managed by Russell Penn, have endured a similar mixed run of form to Leamington this season and currently sit in 15th place.