LEAMINGTON took their unbeaten November run into their opening match of December on Tuesday night – claiming a point in a 1-1 draw with Brackley Town to make it seven matches without defeat.
It could have all been that much sweeter for Paul Holleran’s men at the Community Stadium in midweek, had it not been for Lee Ndlovu’s late equaliser which wiped out Sam Osborne’s sumptuous chip that gave the Brakes the lead on the stroke of half-time.
But taking into account the packed fixture schedule of late – one that will continue for the foreseeable future in consequence of the delayed start to the season – in addition to a first ever win over former Football League side York City on Saturday in a 2-1 success, it proves another respectable point on the board.
Considering the lacklustre start in which Leamington opened the season with three successive defeats, the turnaround in form that has taken them to eighth in National League North and on the cusp of the play-off places is a truly remarkable one.
Given the way that Leamington have performed of late, that run could well be set to continue, regardless of a tough run of fixtures that faces them in the coming weeks – with fifth-placed Gateshead next up on Saturday on home soil.
With two changes made to the team that saw off the Ministermen last weekend, Jack Edwards and Danny Waldron replaced Kaiman Anderson and Junior English, who netted alongside Osborne in the York victory.
After an even opening, a deflected cross from Waldron almost found the net when clipping the top of Danny Lewis’ crossbar – seemingly the only worthwhile action of the half.
That was until Brakes’ livewire Osborne provided a moment of genius to break the deadlock and give the hosts a priceless half-time lead.
Picking up a loose ball, the 21-year-old manoeuvred his way to the edge of the penalty area, cut the ball back to take out two defenders, before dinking the ball over Lewis and into the far corner of the net.
And the attacking midfielder almost inspired Leamington to net a second, beating Brackley’s Connor Franklin on the touchline before drilling a low cross into the path of Lance Smith, who was unable to sort his feet inside the penalty area.
Smith did get his opportunity to strike on goal moments later, this time being denied by the glove of Lewis as opposed to his poor anticipation – Town’s goalkeeper reacting remarkably to keep the ball out from close range after the Leamington hitman met Waldron’s delivery.
Jack Edwards and James Armson then both missed chances at either end with a lack of clinical finishing, while Lewis was up to his old tricks to keep out Joe Clarke’s rasping drive and Osborne’s low strike through a crowd of bodies.
Brackley, evidently with nothing to lose, began to crank up the pressure towards the conclusion of the game and were duly rewarded for their attacking endeavour.
The equaliser came from a right-wing corner swung into the vicinity of Ndlovu, who gratefully slammed the ball high past Jake Weaver to earn the visitors a share of the spoils with six minutes left to play.
After this weekend’s clash with The Tynesiders, Leamington then complete a run of five successive home fixtures when welcoming Darlington on Tuesday night.