Resolute Brakes go down fighting

Max Stryjek clears the danger as Brakes press. Picture: Sally Ellis
Max Stryjek clears the danger as Brakes press. Picture: Sally Ellis
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Brakes earned a creditable final day point at play-off chasing Boston to delight their travelling supporters as they waved goodbye to the Conference North, writes Paul Edwards.

Against a Pilgrims side that was not at full strength but still full of attacking intent, Leamington defended manfully and aided by a little good fortune, they stuck in there and hauled themselves to the 40-point mark.

The Jakemans Stadium had given Brakes fans their first real taste of Conference North away days and it was to provide their last, for now at least, and those who travelled gave the team a European-style welcome with tickertape and huge gold and black banners covering the away end.

Kaine Felix was to have a frustrating afternoon for the hosts and he fired the first warning shot of the afternoon early on, striking the post after being played clear by Jake Hall.

Leamington broke from this attack and Nathan Hicks’ shot took an unfortunate double deflection off the Brakes player to go behind for a goal kick.

Boston skipper Carl Piergianni’s low shot was wide before Richard Taundry had Leamington’s best effort of the half, a low driven free-kick that went just past the post.

Boston began to build up a real head of steam and Paul Holleran’s men did superbly to hold firm, getting challenges and blocks in by any means necessary. Piergianni sent a diving header inches past the post at the end of one such attack.

Boston were screaming for a penalty award as Jonny Maddison and Felix collided on the edge of the box, while the midfielder saw another shot cleared off the line by Joe Magunda. Maddison then got down well to deny Marc Newsham.

Jordan Goddard’s early second-half effort was blocked as Brakes began to see more of the ball in forward positions but Boston were still looking the more likely side to break the deadlock, the only problem being that they appeared to have left their shooting boots at home.

They were unfortunate, however, when Jamie McGhee’s well-struck shot took a deflection that helped it on to the crossbar.

Boston then proceeded to spurn a raft of chances, any one of which on another day could have been nestling in the back of the Leamington net.

Piergianni’s acrobatic effort just cleared the goal, Newsham then headed narrowly over the bar when he should really have at least tested Maddison, while Felix looked odds-on to do so after bursting clear on the left, only to shoot into the side netting.

He then blazed another effort over the bar before substitute Mark Jones did likewise.

Brakes were denied by the offside flag on a couple of occasions when they looked to have found a way through the Boston defence, but they had a glorious opportunity to snatch the lead when Hicks managed to get the ball past keeper Max Stryjek to centre for Danny Newton, who headed agonisingly wide of the open goal.

The chances continued to rain down on the Leamington goal at the other end as the heavens opened, Rene Steer blazing another shot high and wide, while substitute Scott Garner got one on target which was comfortably held by Maddison.

Zak Mills then sliced first-time high over the bar as a corner kick fell nicely for him at the far post.

The final chance fell, perhaps inevitably, to Felix, but again he was off target, leaving Brakes fans to cheer an ultimately fruitless but welcome point, while Boston, who finished in third place, can look forward to a play-off semi-final against Chorley and the chance to get back into the Conference Premier.

There was plenty of mutual respect between the two sets of fans after the final whistle which was nice to see, the travelling support hanging back to witness the hosts’ end-of-season awards as the Pilgrims fans from the Town End terrace came on to the pitch to watch.

Boston United: Max Stryjek, Zak Mills, Rene Steer, Kyle Dixon, Ollie Price (Scott Garner, 64), Carl Piergianni, Kaine Felix, Jake Hall, Marc Newsham (Dayle Southwell, 69), Jamie McGhee, Jake Sheridan (Mark Jones, 58).

Subs not used: Nicky Walker, Louis Saebe.

Brakes: Jonny Maddison, Joe Magunda, James Mace, Jack Edwards, Jamie Tank, Delroy Gordon, Jordan Goddard, Richard Taundry (Bilal Yafai, 90), Connor Gudger (Ellison Porter, 90), Nathan Hicks, Danny Newton. Subs not used: Matt Warner, Martyn Naylor, Lewis Fenney.