Rowe puts Brakes on the road to victory

Ryan Rowe scores Brakes' fifth-minute opener on his way to a double for his new side. Pictures: Morris Troughton
Ryan Rowe scores Brakes' fifth-minute opener on his way to a double for his new side. Pictures: Morris Troughton
  • Southern League Premier Division
  • Brakes 3 Cirencester Town 1

Ryan Rowe had a league debut to remember for Leamington, scoring twice as the hosts got their Southern Premier campaign off to the best possible start, writes Paul Okey.

An attacking line-up, featuring four close-season signings, revelled in the summer sun to make sure the warm glow which bathed the Phillips 66 continued long into the evening for the home fans.

After Rob Thompson-Brown’s emphatic finish had put Brakes three goals to the good it looked as though a rout could be on the cards.

A sloppy reply from James Mortimer-Jones gave Cirencester a sniff of a way back and but for an outstanding double save from Tony Breeden, the visitors could have been back to 3-2.

However, with the pace of Thompson-Brown and Ahmed Obeng, in particular, giving the Cirencester defence little respite, Brakes always looked like they had more goals in them should the need arise.

Rowe needed just five minutes to open his Brakes account, swivelling to fire past Harvey Rivers at his near post after Baker-Richardson had helped on Ben George’s throw.

Rob Thompson-Brown slams home Leamington's third.

Rob Thompson-Brown slams home Leamington's third.

Cirencester were almost level two minutes later when James Mace failed to deal with a long ball, allowing Lee Smith to fire in a shot which looked to have Breeden beaten, only to slide past the angle.

It was to be Town’s last serious threat of the first half as Mace recovered from his error to produce a typically assured performance alongside Jamie Hood.

At the other end, Rivers was out quickly to deny Connor Gudger after Obeng’s run across the edge of the box had left a trail of stray legs in his wake.

From the resultant corner, Jack Edwards’ header was blocked and a grounded Rowe was unable to force the loose ball home from close to the line despite two bites of the cherry.

He was much more clinical with his next attempt, however.

Latching on to a flighted pass from Baker-Richardson, he steadied himself, brought the ball on to his right foot and curled in a superb effort past the despairing dive of Rivers.

It was the finish of a striker high on confidence.

A direct Obeng run brought out a save at his near post from Rivers but with 21 minutes gone and a two-goal cushion, Brakes understandably dropped off the pace as the heat began to take its toll.

There was still little threat from Cirencester and the only concern for Leamington was a heavy challenge on Rowe which forced the striker to summon on the physio.

Thankfully, after treatment and a round of water for both sets of players, he was able to resume.

Cirencester made a change at the break, bringing on Adam Connolly for Aiden Bennett, but found themselves 3-0 down seven minutes into the second half.

Thompson-Brown had already warmed the hands of Rivers with a free-kick before becoming the second new boy of the afternoon to open their account.

Rowe picked up the assist for a neat lay-off which allowed the former Redditch man to slam the ball past Rivers from ten yards out, but defender Kyle Lapham’s throw-in straight to Rowe was the stuff of managers’ nightmares.

The overworked Rivers was out smartly to prevent Obeng making it four before Cirencester were handed an unexpected lifeline.

A quick free-kick caught Brakes unprepared and two headers were lost in the box, the second of which allowed Mortimer-Jones to place the ball past Breeden.

Neat play on the edge of the area presented Rowe with a chance to restore Brakes’ three-goal lead but his shot was deflected behind, while Ollie Knight’s ball juggling almost fashioned a chance for the visitors, with Breeden relieved the winger could not get enough purchase on his chip.

A Mortimer-Jones shot caused an anxious moment, with the ball appearing to be arcing into the top corner, but Breeden was across well to pluck it to safety.

Baker-Richardson had a shot deflected over the bar as the game appeared to be petering out.

Nevertheless, it needed Breeden to be at the top of his game to prevent Cirencester halving the deficit in the 86th minute.

The Brakes captain was quickly out to prevent Town substitute Charlie Griffin squeezing the ball in at the near post and after the ball had looped up and bounced off the crossbar, he raced across the goal to block what appeared to be a simple tap-in for Mortimer-Jones.

With Cirencester having already been flattered by one goal, two would have been unjust.

Two-goal Rowe, on the other hand, was fully deserving of the flattery that came his way.

Long may the hot streak continue.

Brakes: Tony Breeden, Ben George, Connor Gudger, Darren Pond, Jamie Hood, James Mace, Courtney Baker-Richardson, Jack Edwards, Ryan Rowe (Lee Moore, 70), Rob Thompson-Brown (Richard Taundry, 88), Ahmed Obeng. Subs not used: Ryan Quinn, Rob Elvins, Charlie Fitzmaurice.

Cirencester: Harvey Rivers, Kyle Lapham, Scott Bevan, James Coates, Matt Liddiard, Chris Taylor, Aiden Bennett (Adam Connolly, 46), James Mortimer-Jones, Ross Langworthy (Charlie Griffin, 57), Lee Smith (Jon Else, 84), Ollie Knight. Subs not used: Kalum Youngsam.