Brakes bagged a crucial three points against fellow relegation battlers Colwyn Bay to open up a six-point gap between themselves and the bottom three in the Vanarama Conference North, writes Paul Edwards.
While the result of this fixture was by no means the be all and end all, Paul Holleran’s men displayed the kind of clinical finishing required to ensure the battle to stay up is a successful one, and it should give the players great belief going into a tough run of fixtures in March.
Leamington began brightly but it was the hosts who had the first attempt on goal, skipper Rob Hopley’s downward header saved by Ross Atkins at his near post.
Brakes quickly countered and Danny Newton got his first sight of goal, driving wide from just outside the penalty area.
More of his usual determination and persistence saw the Brakes captain go closer still with another effort soon afterwards.
Leamington continued to forge the majority of their attacking moves down the left and this paid off in the 22nd minute when Newton was played in again.
This time his low driven shot beat keeper Chris Sanna at his near post.
A well-struck effort from distance by James Ellison was directed straight at Atkins as the Seagulls hit back, enjoying plenty of the ball without really penetrating the Leamington defence as the game went through a scrappy spell leading up to half-time.
Nathan Hicks’ first-time shot from the right was saved by Sanna, while Bay’s Mike Lea scrambled a corner kick just wide at the far post.
The next goal would be vital and it came from the right boot of Hicks.
With time and space down the right, he spotted Sanna just off his line and delivered a ball that looped over the startled keeper and into the far corner for his first goal since returning to the club from Alfreton Town.
The home side were forced into a substitution minutes before the interval, with Marc Williams replacing the injured Wes Baynes in attack.
The new introduction had a chance with practically his first touch but could only stretch to head the ball wide from a right-wing corner.
Atkins came off his line to avert a dangerous Seagulls attack, while at the other end, Lee Chilton won a free-kick on the left edge of the area which Jordan Goddard whipped just over the bar.
With a strong wind at their backs in the second half, Leamington stepped up a gear with Connor Gudger’s rasping drive forcing a fine save out of Sanna.
The wind was also a nuisance too, however, as the resulting corner kick was caught by a strong gust which took it over a crowded six-yard box.
Colwyn Bay were desperately close to halving the deficit when a powerful strike from Ellison cannoned off the inside of the post and away to safety but it was Brakes who continued to carve out the best scoring opportunities and Chilton’s low drive was pushed behind by Sanna before Goddard added a third goal eight minutes in, cutting in from the left before finding the bottom corner from the edge of the area.
Newton volleyed just wide after the ball was played up to the edge of the Colwyn penalty area before the hosts were left aggrieved after Obi Anoruo appeared to be pulled down by Delroy Gordon as he charged towards goal . Referee Michael Salisbury waved away the claims for a penalty which, if awarded would almost certainly have seen Gordon, as the last line of defence, sent for an early bath.
Good persistence from Hicks saw him get the better of Mike Wilson down the right to put him in on goal but Sanna came off his line well to smother the shot, while another effort from the same player was deflected behind for a corner.
Just as Leamington looked to be coasting to victory the Seagulls snatched a lifeline in the 73rd minute, which was credited to Hopley, the ball somehow trickling past Atkins and into the corner as a player ran across his eyeline.
It mattered little, however, as from the restart Leamington stormed back up the other end to restore their three-goal cushion, Goddard playing a perfect ball to the far post where Chilton arrived late to stab it inside the post.
The healthy band of travelling supporters were in full voice now, and Bilal Yafai was given a raucous welcome as he stepped on to the pitch for his debut.
He certainly made a good early impression, showing some neat touches and holding the ball up well under pressure.
The hosts had two late chances from free -kicks conceded right on the edge of the Leamington area, the first struck the defensive wall and the second sailed over the bar.
Late substitute James Fry had a well-struck shot deflected for a corner before Yafai and fellow Brakes replacement Jack Edwards combined superbly to set up Lee Moore, whose shot on the run found the far corner to complete the rout.
Colwyn Bay: Chris Sanna, Danny Taylor, Louis Moss, Mike Wilson, Mike Lea, Jonathan Royle (Adam Hodgson, 85), Tom Buckley, Obi Anoruo, Rob Hopley, Wes Baynes (Marc Williams, 42), James Ellison. Subs not used: Gareth Rees, Moustapha Saiel, Lanre Olapade
Brakes: Ross Atkins, James Mace, Connor Gudger, Joe Magunda, Delroy Gordon, Jamie Tank, Lee Chilton (Bilal Yafai, 76), Jordan Goddard (Jack Edwards, 81), Lee Moore, Nathan Hicks (James Fry, 85) , Dan Newton. Subs not used: Martyn Naylor, Lewis Fenney