Just days after smashing six, familiar failings came back to haunt Leamington as they crashed to their second consecutive home defeat in the league when Cambridge City punished them with an injury-time winner, writes Paul Edwards.
The similarities between recent clashes at Paulton and against Redditch the previous Tuesday were stark.
It was a game that Brakes had enough chances to have won, particularly in the second half although the game was a more even contest than it had been in the first, when the visitors snatched the lead completely against the run of play.
With Connor Gudger and Ben George both missing, Holleran was forced to slot Richard Taundry in at left-back again. In previous games his presence had been sorely missed in midfield but in the first half the former Walsall man was heavily involved as Brakes dictated proceedings.
Tony Breeden cut out an early attack from the visitors, chesting the ball past Michael Malcolm before firing the ball into midfield and Jack Edwards capitalised on City skipper Buster Harradine’s slip by powering forward and forcing Zac Barrett into his first save with a low drive.
Miserable weather and Champions League football no doubt persuaded a few to stay indoors, leading to a disappointing crowd of 251, but those who braved the rain saw much to warm them in the opening 45 minutes.
Taundry curled a shot over the bar after a mazy dribble before Harradine fired a free-kick well wide at the other end.
Cambridge then stunned their hosts by taking the lead with their first real chance on goal just short of the half-hour mark. A neat move down the right led to a low cross that should have been cut out, but it found its way through to Jon Kaye at the far post, who rifled a first-time drive into the roof of the net.
Gary Roberts’ side were clearly buoyed by the goal and had Leamington rattled for a short spell. Ross Oulton, who had seen what looked to be a legitimate claim for a penalty waved away when he was shoved over inside the penalty area, had to make a timely intervention to prevent Malcolm from getting in a shot on goal, while Dan Gleeson headed just wide from the resulting corner.
Oulton was involved in much of Leamington’s good work going forward and he helped to play Rob Ogleby in on the right to clip the equaliser past Barrett in the 39th minute.
Barrett was forced to push away a corner whipped in towards the near post by Oulton and, as the rain eased off slightly in the second half, the game became more of an even affair with the visitors growing more confident as time wore on.
Ben Mackey had an excellent chance to head Leamington in front when he was left unmarked as Taundry found him at the far post with a free-kick, but appeared to get his positioning slightly wrong and the ball sailed out of play without a touch.
A couple of timely interventions were required to halt dangerous-looking Cambridge forays, while the visitors then handed Mackey another chance to score as he latched on to a loose pass from a defender to round keeper Barrett. However, he was unable to direct the ball back on goal.
Harradine set his sights again with another free-kick for Cambridge, this time firing just wide before sending another into the hands of Breeden. In between, Oulton was convinced he had another shout for a penalty as his run into the box was brought to an abrupt halt. The midfielder then fired well over the bar from Mackey’s lay-off on the edge of the box.
Jamie Hood pushed upfield late on, tearing on to a pass down the right wing and stayed up to head on a clearance from Breeden to Mackey inside the box, with the striker’s first-time shot superbly smothered by Barrett.
Cambridge looked the more likely scorers in the closing stages, and with the game entering injury time, the visitors struck a devastating blow as they picked up a corner kick that was played to the edge of their box by Oulton. Josh Dawkin began the counter attack by carrying the ball over half the length of the pitch before finding substitute Alex Serrano, who set up Michael Malcolm to fire in the winner to the delight of his team-mates and the visiting bench.
Will Green fired a well-worked effort just wide in the time that remained, but Brakes were left to rue another three points that got away.
Brakes: Tony Breeden, James Fry, Richard Taundry, Joe Magunda, Jamie Hood, James Mace, Rob Ogleby (Will Green, 82), Ross Oulton, Ben Mackey, Jack Edwards, Lee Chilton. Subs not used: Jamie Tank, Reece Mitchell, Adrian Boitos, Eddie Caviezel-Cox.
Cambridge City: Zac Barrett, Tom Pepper, Charlie Day, Adam Murray, Dan Gleeson (Alex Serrano, 72), Buster Harradine, Ieuan Lewis, Jon Kaye, Michael Malcolm, Danny Kelly, Josh Dawkin. Subs not used: Josh Maltby, James Carman, Neil Midgley.