Brakes pull off an audacious escape
Leamington did not so much get out of jail on Saturday than escape a maximum security prison, with two goals inside three minutes late in the second half totally transforming this National League North fixture, writes Paul Okey.
The former Football League side had led 2-0, spurned numerous other chances and seen a strong penalty shout turned down.
It seemed of little consequence as the home side had offered little evidence to suggest they could even work York keeper Bailey Peacock-Farrell, let alone beat him.
However, with substitutes Kurtis Revan and Ahmed Obeng pepping up the home attack, Brakes halved the deficit in the 85th minute thanks to Junior English’s close-range strike before fellow replacement Liam Canavan popped up with the equaliser in the 87th minute.
Tony Breeden’s back spasm forced Paul Holleran to call upon short-term cover Jose Veiga to start in goal, with Jamie Hood taking over the captain’s armband.
Veiga was able to warm his hands just 47 seconds in, diving across goal to parry away a Simon Heslop effort after the visitors had worked a smart overlap.
English then did well to muscle out Amari Morgan Smith, with Veiga smartly out of his goal to tidy up as York quickly settled into the game.
Nine minutes in they were rewarded for their bright opening and it came straight from a Leamington corner. This time it was Adriano Moke on the overlap and his cross was turned in by David Ferguson.
York should have been two up five minutes later, but while Ferguson had the net rippling, it was a result of having the hit the support rather than the goal.
A long clearance from Veiga set up Brakes’ one and only effort on goal in the half, Jack Edwards bringing down the high ball neatly before sending a difficult volley over the bar.
Burly York frontman Parkin flicked a header over the bar from a long throw-on before Leamington were the beneficiaries of an almighty let-off in the 25th minute. English was beaten to a header from a free-kick and, as the ball came back off the bar, Grecians skipper Sean Newton could only volley the rebound over from six yards when it looked easier to score.
Parkin drove a shot into the Harbury Lane End and a minute before the break Newton was again looking to the heavens after another gilt-edged chance went begging.
This time, Morgan Smith raced to the byline to reach Parkin’s flick-on and pulled the back for the York skipper who again got too good a connection and launched the ball over the crossbar.
Relieved to be just a goal down at the interval, Brakes showed more intent after the restart with Rob Thompson-Brown almost catching Peacock-Farrell unawares at his near post and Josh Law in superbly to block Stefan Moore’s shot after the striker looked to have a clear sight of goal.
A header from Kieran Dunbar was then straight into the arms of the visitors’ keeper.
All Brakes’ hard work was then seemingly undone by a clanger from Veiga.
Parkin had been subjected to plenty of terrace taunts about his weight but as he has done many times during a prolific career, he responded in the best possible manner by grabbing City’s second.
The presence of Parkin seemed to distract Veiga as he came for Peacock-Farrell’s long punt forward and he only succeeded in palming it over his head. The striker then picked up the pieces, evading the challenge of English and calmly slotting the ball past the covering Hood on the line to the delight of the 330-strong travelling York contingent.
And that seemed that.
A Dunbar shot was blocked, while York looked to have strong claims for a penalty after Morgan Smith and Hood tangled in the box.
A string of substitutions from both sides broke up any tempo there was and when City substitute Louis Almond dallied too long on his shot after breaking the offside trap, allowing Hood to recover to block, it appeared to matter little.
However, any thoughts York had of comfortably seeing the game out were banished in the 85th minute. Obeng did superbly to hook the ball back from the byline after Hood’s free-kick was headed on and, after Revan’s shot was blocked, English was there to force the ball home from close range.
Belief flooded through the home players and support and with Leamington committing numbers forward, City were struggling to clear their lines.
And what had barely seemed imaginable three minutes earlier came to pass in the 87th minute when Brakes drew level. Canavan jumped for Revan’s long throw on the corner of the six-yard box and when he landed he found the ball at his feet. He then dug out a cross-cum-shot which evaded everyone in a crowded area and nestled in the far corner of the net.
Suddenly York realised they were in a game and roused themselves for the dying few minutes.
Parkin poked a loose ball in the box over the bar and Connor Gudger did superbly to deny Almond with a last-ditch challenge.
Gudger was then in the right place to deny Parkin on the line after Veiga had failed to collect a corner, York appealing in vain for hands as Brakes smuggled the ball away. It would sit nicely with the point they had just stolen.
Brakes: José Veiga, James Mace, Connor Gudger, Joe Clarke, Jamie Hood, Junior English, Kieran Dunbar, Joe Magunda, Stefan Moore (Kurtis Revan, 65), Jack Edwards (Liam Canavan, 69), Rob Thompson-Brown (Ahmed Obeng, 73). Subs not used: Richard Taundry, Callum Gittings.
York City: Bailey Peacock-Farrell, Josh Law, Alex Whittle (Jaseem Sukar, 81), Hamza Bencherif, Daniel Parslow, Adriano Moke, Sean Newton, Simon Heslop, Jon Parkin, Amari Morgan Smith (Louis Almond, 75), David Ferguson. Subs not used: Kane Felix, Theo Wharton, Luke Simpson.