BRAKES 2 AFC TOTTON 1
Lee Chilton and Matt Dodd both grabbed their fifth goals of the season as Brakes held off a spirited AFC Totton side on Saturday, writes Paul Edwards.
However, there should have been more names on the scoresheet, such was the volume of chances for the hosts during the course of an entertaining afternoon.
Leamington made a typically strong start to the game. Aware that Stags keeper Gareth Barfoot’s vision was affected by the setting sun, James Husband tried his luck from distance, seeing his lofted effort saved.
Totton came agonisingly close to going in front when Richard Gillespie’s first-time shot brought out a superb reaction save from Niall Cooper, who then claimed the follow-up cross at the second attempt.
With Totton cursing their luck, Leamington moved the ball swiftly up field and Joe Magunda picked out Chilton, who swept it low past Barfoot for the opener.
Dodd, who caused problems for Totton all afternoon with his close control and trickery down the right, found Husband after cutting in from the wing, but after skipping past a couple of challenges the long-serving midfielder stabbed his shot against the upright.
Liam Daly then met a Dodd cross with a thumping header that dropped just wide of the far post.
Totton had a chance to drag themselves level before the half-hour when Cooper was adjudged to have hauled down Gillespie.
The Brakes keeper was shown a yellow card but atoned for his misdemeanour by diving low to his right to keep out Michael Gosney’s penalty.
Ricky Johnson’s curling first-time drive whistled past the post and keeper Barfoot did well to push Daly’s 25-yard free-kick over the bar as Leamington continued to threaten.
The second half began with an almighty scramble in the Totton box as Johnson, Chilton, Magunda and Husband all saw shots blocked.
Gillespie swept a first-time effort inches over the bar, but Brakes responded with a header from Daly which was blocked by a defender and a Chilton shot which whistled past the post.
Daly went close again when his goalbound header from Stephan Morley’s free-kick was diverted into Barfoot’s hands by Ross Bottomley.
The visitors were level in the 54th minute when Gosney’s skidding low drive bounced past the dive of Cooper into the net.
This merely served to spur Leamington on, and they continued to carve out chances.
Barfoot was forced to push a cross from James Mace over his crossbar and two pieces of sublime skill from Husband saw him pick out Dodd at the far post, who cushioned his header perfectly, only to see the ball ricochet off post and bar before being cleared.
The winger did not have long to wait for another chance, though, and this time he made no mistake, rattling a drive past Barfoot from Johnson’s knock-down.
Totton were forced to play out the closing stages a man light after Jonathan Davies received a straight red card for clattering into Chilton from behind.
Brakes continued to press as the full-time whistle loomed and Alex Taylor and Chilton both beat the keeper only to see their efforts hacked off the line.
Brakes: Niall Cooper, James Mace, Stephan Morley, Joe Magunda, Jamie Hood, Liam Daly, Matt Dodd, James Husband (Alex Taylor, 74), Ricky Johnson (Tom Berwick, 75), Lee Chilton, Richard Batchelor. Subs not used: Martyn Naylor, Lee Moore, Sam Adkins.
AFC Totton: Gareth Barfoot, Ryan Hill, Luke Whitely, Ross Bottomley (Gareth Sanashee, 82), Jamie Whisken, Dave Allen (Luke Roberts, 81), Carl Pettefer, Jonathan Davies, Chris Mason, Richard Gillespie, Michael Gosney. Subs not used: Jamie Rudd, Chris Ferrett, Steve Hollick.