A point was not the result Brakes would have wanted or needed from a long trip up to North Ferriby United but it was what they were forced to settle for after a dour clash on a miserable February afternoon against an ultimately doomed but rejuvenated home side, writes Paul Edwards.
Under the circumstances it could be viewed as a point gained, with Leamington forced to operate a man light after Jack Edwards was shown a straight red card minutes before half-time, while manager Paul Holleran was sent from the dugout in the aftermath.
The hosts were clearly boosted from picking up their first point in quite some time at Chorley the previous Saturday and were in front within two minutes, Brett Agnew following up his first goal for the club with another here, latching on to a through ball from Jordan Harrison to chest down and crash a low drive into the bottom corner.
Breeden parried another shot which allowed Adam Bolder to send a diving header just wide of the far post as the Villagers buzzed around their opponents. Jordan Deacey then sent another effort just wide.
Edwards headed Kieran Dunbar’s free-kick just wide of the target but Brakes were level nine minutes after going behind.
Callum Gittings pulled the ball back into the six-yard box from the right touchline and Daniel Udoh got just enough purchase on his close-range effort for the ball to squeeze under the body of keeper Ross Durrant, who would surely have been disappointed to concede.
Ahmed Obeng screwed a shot across goal and wide of the far post after Dunbar had played him in down the left before the same player was denied what looked to be a good chance for a second goal by a superb blocking challenge from Jordon Cooke after Udoh pulled the ball back into the box.
Edwards sent a header into the hands of Durrant but North Ferriby were clearly playing with confidence in attack, Harrison latching on to a wayward defensive header to crash a vicious first-time volley across goal, Breeden getting down well with a strong arm to deflect the ball away from harm.
The main flashpoint came minutes before the break. Cooke went down holding his face after an off-the-ball incident with Edwards and referee Rebecca Welsh, who appeared not to see the incident, consulted her assistant on that side before brandishing the red card.
Given some of the challenges that had gone unpunished it was something of a surprise, though Edwards did admit on Twitter later that he had pushed the Ferriby defender in a “moment of madness”.
Paul Holleran was clearly furious with the decision and was sent from the pitchside shortly afterwards, leading to heated debate during the interval.
Joe Magunda replaced Kaine Felix as Leamington looked to steady the ship in the second half and they certainly enjoyed the lion’s share of the attacking play with North Ferriby only showing in glimpses the forward threat they had displayed in the first 45 minutes.
Dunbar floated a free-kick over the crossbar from a good position before Obeng weaved into the area from the left, shooting just wide of the near post.
Junior English poked a shot wide from 25 yards and Dunbar then lifted another effort over the bar following a throw-in as Brakes looked for that telling final touch.
Agnew cut inside and sent a low drive into the arms of Breeden as North Ferriby looked to exploit the gaps left by Leamington pushing forward but the visitors generally dealt with what was thrown at them fairly comfortably.
Obeng hooked the ball back into the danger area from another free-kick as Brakes pressed in the closing stages, English seeing his shot blocked away from goal. A shot cleared the Leamington crossbar in retaliation before substitute Kojo Kyei raced in on goal and was denied by a combination of Jamie Hood and Breeden.
The clearest chance for Brakes to snatch a vital second goal came when Gittings set up Udoh for a smart turn and shot that was beaten out by a fine save from Durrant. The ball was only cleared as far as Connor Gudger some 30 yards out and he was unfortunate to see his low piledriver crash back off the outside of the post to safety.
Another of Ferriby’s substitutes, Sam Ansu, saw his low goalbound drive parried well by Breeden, who claimed the ball at the second attempt. English then clipped the ball wide after Dunbar played it back into the box following a corner.
Harrison was the home side’s most dangerous player on the day and he turned well to fire a rising drive inches past the upright.
It was Leamington who came closest as the contest drew to its conclusion, however, Magunda powering a header a whisker over the crossbar from a late corner.
North Ferriby United: Ross Durrant, Ben Clappison, Jack Walters, Bobby Johnson, Jordon Cooke, Jack Mail ( Kojo Kyei, 72), Jordan Harrison, Adam Bolder, Brett Agnew, Jordan Deacey (Jamie Forrester, 72), Jerome Slew (Sam Ansu, 61). Subs not used: Lewis Exall, Charlie Dunkerley.
Brakes: Tony Breeden, James Mace, Connor Gudger, Kieran Dunbar, Jamie Hood, Junior English, Kaine Felix (Joe Magunda, 46), Callum Gittings, Daniel Udoh, Jack Edwards, Ahmed Obeng. Subs not used: Kurtis Revan, Liam Canavan, Stefan Moore, Shay Nicholson.