‘Ugly’ midweek victory helps Brakes stay out in front

Nathan Olukanmi supplied the cross for Brakes winner in midweek. Picture: Tim Nunan
Nathan Olukanmi supplied the cross for Brakes winner in midweek. Picture: Tim Nunan
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Leamington boss Paul Holleran was reflecting on “a good few days” after his side followed up the 1-0 win at St Neots that sent them to the top of the table with a hard-fought single-goal success at home to Cambridge City on Tuesday evening.

Brakes failed to hit the heights in midweek, needing Connor Gudger’s 87th-minute strike to secure the three points.

However, Holleran was delighted to see a different side to his Southern Premier Division leaders.

“It’s been a good few days,” said Holleran.

“It’s probably the first time this season we’ve had to win ugly.

“There are varying reasons.

“One or two of our players looked a little off it and they tried to make it difficult for us.

“We lacked the decision-making and when the chances came we didn’t take them.

“But we changed it around with 20 minutes to go and we had to grind it out.

“Maybe it’s because our standard has been so high this season and we’ve been getting lots of the ball.

“Cambridge worked hard to stop us and that was evident by some of the challenges going in early on.”

An eyecatching run from loan signing Nathan Olukanmi created the opening for Leamington’s winner, justifying Holleran’s decision to throw on the winger in place of leading scorer Ryan Rowe.

“It was a great bit of skill from Nathan to open them up.

“We’d struggled to play through them and then weren’t able to go over the top or round them so to run straight through them was the only way - I don’t think I’ve ever seen a run like that.”

Brakes take a break from league action tomorrow when they entertain Northern Premier League Premier Division side Mickleover Sports in the FA Trophy first round qualifying.

After an early FA Cup exit at the hands of Highgate, Holleran is looking for some cup cheer from the Trophy, but he knows it will not be easy against the Derbyshire side.

“They’re a really good footballing team with some experience with (player-manager) John McGrath and Pablo Mills and Clinton Morrison up front so we know it will be a tough game.

“After the disappointment of the FA Cup we want to do well and we have tended to do alright in the FA Trophy in recent years.

“We’re at home, we’re in good form and if we show good spirit and the players get to the standards they can do then we will be okay.”

Darren Pond is expected to have recovered from the bruising he picked up in the midweek win, while Callum Gittings is pushing for a recall after recovering from the foot injury he suffered at Dorchester.