Brakes outwit St Neots and Kettering to cut the deficit at the top

Rob Thompson-Brown fired home Brakes' third against Kettering Town. Picture: Tim Nunan
Rob Thompson-Brown fired home Brakes' third against Kettering Town. Picture: Tim Nunan

Leamington boss Paul Holleran produced a tactical masterclass to lead his side to maximum points from back to back home games, cutting the gap to Chippenham at the top of the Southern Premier Division to four points.

Brakes eased to wins over St Neots and Kettering to pile the pressure on the leaders, who have played a game more, with Holleran outmanoeuvring his opposite number on both occasions.

“The two games followed a similar pattern,” said Holleran. “We looked at St Neots and they are very much 4-2-4 with the two sitting midfielders allowing the front four to play.

“You can see the ability and can see why they have scored three, four and five.

“But we knew if we looked after their top four and worked hard the key thing would be when the ball changed from them to us and how quickly we could break with quality.

“The good thing is that the players behind Ahmed (Obeng) put a shift in. We kept a good shape and got in quickly one on one v their full-backs.

“It was the same thing with Kettering. They’ve got quite a formidable strikeforce and commit bodies forward.

“But you’ve got to ask the question, ‘do they do enough when they’ve not got the ball?’.

“That’s the difference between them and us, our physicality and our work rate.”

Brakes were noticeably more direct in their 3-0 win over Kettering in midweek, bypassing the centre of the park to turn around the Poppies midfielders.

It was a tactic which led to a succession of crosses being whipped in from both flanks and Holleran said it was something they had spoken about before the game.

“We pinpointed the back-post area for Courtney (Baker-Richardson) and Jack (Edwards) to expose.

“They look to get in a high press and (Nathan) Hicks and Rene Howe step on so we wanted to get the ball into the final third quicker and miss them out.

“Their players come back into that area but they are not comfortable there.

“We executed it perfectly.”

Brakes, who will be looking to make it six wins from seven when they visit Basingstoke tomorrow, are hopeful Connor Gudger will have recovered from a dead calf.

However, Joe Magunda looks set to miss out again after pulling his groin against St Neots.