Daniel Dubidat made an instant impression on his Brakes debut, earning the third-minute penalty which settled a lacklustre bank holiday derby at the DCS Stadium, writes Paul Okey.
Dubidat took advantage of indecision in the home box to nip in and pinch possession after a promising Brakes move looked to have fizzled out, with Araon Moses-Garvey’s half-hearted challenge sending him tumbling for the softest of spot-kicks.
Sam Austin stepped up to send Andy Kemp the wrong way from 12 yards and that was the end of the goalmouth action until the 26th minute when Jack Edwards shot too close to the Stratford keeper after finding space on the edge of the box.
Callum Gittings shot well wide for the visitors before Dior Angus roused Stratford with an ambitious lob which drifted harmlessly past the far post.
Angus was much closer to scoring against his former club in the 36th minute, twisting and turning to create space before sending in a rasping 25-yard effort which had Tony Breeden at full stretch as it grazed a post.
Town captain Gary Moran took one for the team after Austin had been gifted possession by Kieren Westwood, chopping down the midfielder as he advanced with purpose on the home goal.
Dubidant was then denied by the assistant referee’s flag after Ben George’s shot was deflected into his path.
Angus was proving Stratford’s main threat and he used his pace to beat Richard Taundry to the byeline, only for Jamie Tank to produce a superb block to cut out the danger.
Another former Brake in Jamie Sheldon was introduced after the break for the hosts, who enjoyed their first spell of pressure ten minutes in.
Simeon Tulloch drove over the bar after being released by Tyrone Fagan, while a cross-shot from Sheldon was awkwardly clawed over the bar by Breeden.
Brakes’ skipper had an anxious moment after an Angus shot found its way through a melee of players, gathering the ball at the second attempt, while Kemp was similarly discomfited by an Austin bobbler, pushing the ball out for a corner which came to nothing.
Joe Magunda was thrown on in the 73rd minute to shore up the midfield in place of former Stratford man Joe Halsall, but despite a number of promising free-kicks for the home side, they lacked the ingenuity to unlock a resolute Leamington backline.
A Liam Francis header was easy for Breeden, while at the other end, Edwards showed good pace to push the ball past the last man, but with the goal opening up, he failed to get enough purchase on his shot and it was comfortable for Kemp.
Dubidat had the chance to mark his first Brakes bow with a goal after Stratford switched off following a poor Kemp goal-kick, but after being slipped through by Taundry, he slid the ball agonisingly past the far post.
Baker-Richardson then showed a lack of conviction in the dying seconds, shooting tamely at Kemp after Austin had set him free.
Stratford: Andy Kemp, Gary Moran (Jamie Sheldon, 46), Kieren Westwood, Liam Francis, Emmit Delfounso, Anthony Charles, Simeon Tulloch, Jack Roberts, Tyrone Fagan, Aaron Moses-Garvey (Richard Gregory, 75), Dior Angus. Subs not used: Mark Magee, Edwin Ahenkorah, Aaron Stringfellow.
Brakes: Tony Breeden, Richard Taundry, Connor Gudger, Joe Halsall (Joe Magunda, 73), Jamie Tank, James Mace, Ben George (Courtney Baker-Richardson, 81), Callum Gittings, Daniel Dubidat (Ross Oulton 89), Jack Edwards, Sam Austin
Subs not used: Ben Mackey, Khaellem Bailey.