Leamington are made to pay a for slack start

Colby Bishop reduces the deficit from the spot. Pictures: Louise Smith
Colby Bishop reduces the deficit from the spot. Pictures: Louise Smith
  • National League North
  • Brakes 1 Blyth Spartans 2

Brakes were their own worst enemies once more as they conceded two poor goals inside the opening seven minutes to allow Blyth Spartans to build a match-winning cushion, writes Paul Edwards.

With new loan signing Daniel Sweeney unavailable having taken a knock in training and Connor Taylor still not quite fit, Paul Holleran made two changes to his starting XI from the previous game against Hereford, bringing Connor Gudger and Reece Flanagan back into the side.

Ahmed Obeng is sent tumbling to the ground but the referee is unmoved.

Ahmed Obeng is sent tumbling to the ground but the referee is unmoved.

The majority of the crowd of 523 were not even settled down to watch the game before Blyth were ahead, the Leamington defence backing off and allowing Kieran Green to smash an unstoppable effort high into the net inside the opening 60 seconds.

Brakes were all over the place defensively in the opening exchanges but despite this they still forged a decent attempt at a swift leveller, Jordan Murphy driving in from the right wing and lashing in a powerful low drive that was well saved by Spartans keeper Peter Jameson. From the resulting corner, Jameson was a little more fortunate as Callum Gittings headed straight at him.

There was barely time to draw breath before Blyth went two goals up, Daniel Maguire afforded far too much time and space to turn and drive low past a statuesque Tony Breeden, who could not believe what he was seeing in front of him as the raucous band of travelling fans behind his goal roared their approval.

Murphy was getting at the visitors’ defence whenever possible and another purposeful dart saw Blyth give away a free-kick which was driven well over the bar by Flanagan.

Callum Gittings is carried off on a stretcher after suffering ankle ligament damage.

Callum Gittings is carried off on a stretcher after suffering ankle ligament damage.

The game finally began to settle down after its frantic opening, Brakes creating another good opening when Flanagan and Murphy combined, the latter seeing his blistering rising drive very well saved by Jameson. From the corner, Colby Bishop chested down well but volleyed just over the bar.

Breeden almost played his side into trouble when he took a free-kick too quickly, smashing the ball into a startled James Mace, who remained grounded for a few minutes. This enabled Blyth to counter and it was only a superb last-ditch challenge from Junior English inside the box that denied Green as he prepared to pull the trigger.

The ups and downs of a goalkeeper were encapsulated in the final moments of the first half as Leamington won themselves the opportunity to halve the deficit at a crucial time in the game.

Ahmed Obeng was bundled over by Jameson, who then picked himself up to guess the right way and parry Bishop’s spot-kick. The backspin on the ball was so severe that as it squirmed under the goalkeeper’s body it spun inches away from the goal line, sections of the home support convinced it had gone in.

Tempers become heated in the closing stages of the game.

Tempers become heated in the closing stages of the game.

A goal then would have altered the complexion of the game but with 45 minutes to turn things round, Brakes continued to push forward optimistically in the second half.

Only a great challenge from Alex Nicholson denied Bishop as he shaped to shoot inside the area but the award of a second penalty of the afternoon on 58 minutes gave Leamington another chance at redemption.

Bishop did not let his earlier miss affect him and chose the opposite side of the goal this time, beating Jameson for his 20th goal of the season in all competitions.

Maguire had come close to adding a third for Blyth prior to their lead being cut but it was Leamington doing the bulk of the pressing.

Jack Edwards got past Nicholson on the right and into the penalty area but shot with the outside of his right boot was comfortably pouched by Jameson with Bishop screaming for a pass in the centre.

Edwards drove another effort wide and Murphy sent a low drive bouncing just past the post as Brakes lost the influential Gittings to an ankle ligament injury.

Obeng was sent to the floor once more inside the penalty area for what looked a clearer spot-kick than the two that had already been awarded but referee Sam Mulhall was not as forthcoming on this occasion.

An almighty scramble in the Blyth penalty area saw Nicholson clear off the line from Mace as Brakes came the closest they would get to an equaliser, while Jamie Hood almost connected with a low drive from substitute Joe Clarke as English nudged the ball back to him on the edge of the box. However, it mattered little as the offside flag had been raised.

Edwards and Murphy saw shots blocked in a desperate final few minutes but Blyth must take credit for the way they defended, seeing out the game for a first win in six.

Brakes meanwhile, dropped to 17th and Holleran admitted they could not keep shooting themselves in the foot if they are to maintain the nine-point gap to the drop zone.

“You can’t play at this level of football being 2-0 down again or like we were last week, chasing the game,” he said.

“We’re chasing too many games.

“We’ve shown plenty of character, plenty of spirit to get back into things and to make a fist of things but we’re just making things really, really hard for ourselves.

“And when you look back at the game again we’ll be disappointed again that we haven’t got anything.”

Brakes: Tony Breeden, Junior English, Connor Gudger, Reece Flanagan (Sam Wilding, 81), Jamie Hood, James Mace, Jordan Murphy, Callum Gittings (Joe Clarke, 72), Colby Bishop, Jack Edwards, Ahmed Obeng (Mikey Taylor, 81). Subs not used: Ben Newey, Jack Lane.

Blyth Spartans: Peter Jameson, Lewis Horner, Alex Nicholson, Kieran Green, Nathan Buddle, Louis Laing, Jarrett Rivers, Damen Mullen (Sean Reid, 78), Daniel Maguire (Bradley Fewster, 90), Jamie Holmes (Adam Wrightson, 81), Robbie Dale. Subs not used: Connor Oliver, Jack Butler.