Afternoon to forget as County strike late

Rob Thompson-Brown collects the ball after scoring from the spot.
Rob Thompson-Brown collects the ball after scoring from the spot.
  • National League North
  • Brakes 2 Stockport County 3

Leamington crashed to a fourth successive National League North defeat on an ugly afternoon at the Phillips 66 Community Stadium.

A first home win looked on the cards when substitute Liam Canavan headed Brakes in front in the 82nd minute but shocking defending allowed the Hatters’ Jason Oswell to complete a a dramatic revival in the fifth minute of injury time.

Crowd disturbances which marred the afternoon only added to the sense of despondency around the ground at the final whistle.

The hots were unchanged from the side which went down 2-0 at Kidderminster four days earlier, while County welcomed back Michael Clark to the centre of defence at the expense of Scott Duxbury.

The visitors were backed by a vociferous 360-strong following and nearly gave their support something to cheer in the third minute after a spot of pinball in the Leamington box. However, Joe Clarke produced a superb last-ditch challenge to prevent what looked like a certain goal.

A clever inside ball from Colby Bishop presented Ahmed Obeng with Brakes’ first shooting chance but he sidefooted it wastefully wide.

Ahmed Obeng's shot is deflected on to the crossbar by Stockport County centre-back Matt Clark. Pictures: Morris Troughton

Ahmed Obeng's shot is deflected on to the crossbar by Stockport County centre-back Matt Clark. Pictures: Morris Troughton

Jamie Hood was then called upon to bail out his team-mates after Oswell looked to be clear on goal.

Neat link-up play on the right between Richard Taundry and Obeng then created another shooting chance for the attacker but he found the side netting.

The visitors took the lead in the 16th minute but the goal had an element of controversy about it with the hosts disputing the free-kick which led to it. However, while Junior English was aggrieved to have been penalised there was no disputing Oswell’s emphatic headed finish from Connor Hampson’s delivery.

Three minute later, Oswell rose highest again to connect with a corner, with only a well-placed Connor Gudger preventing the striker bagging a second.

Junior English somehow contrives to miss from a yard out.

Junior English somehow contrives to miss from a yard out.

An overhead kick from Bishop was straight at Ben Hinchcliffe in the Stockport goal before Breeden was booked for a spot of retaliation after reacting to a late challenge.

Brakes should have been level in the 36th minute after Obeng’s shot was deflected on to the bar by Clark’s leg. The ball rebounded out to English who, a yard out, somehow contrived to head his follow-up back against the bar. The danger was still not over but when Bishop eventually turned the ball in, the assistant referee’s flag was raised for offside.

Two minutes later, Leamington were level, however.

Obeng was sent tumbling in the box by a stray leg from Sam Minihan and Rob Thompson-Brown stepped up to send Hinchcliffe the wrong way from the spot.

Bishop worked a promising position early in the second period but his shot took the slightestof deflections off the foot of Hinchcliffe and dribbled agonisingly wide of the far post, while a Hampson free-kick fizzed past a post for the visitors.

However, it was a stop-start opening to the second period. Lengthy delays for injuries only added to the frustration with Obeng replaced by Canavan after picking up a foot injury and Clark needing several minutes of treatment after an accidental elbow from Bishop opened up a gash on his forehead.

Canavan had showed some neat touches after his introduction but it was a rare loose one which led to the 82nd-minute corner from which he put Brakes ahead. Slipped in by Taundry, he miscontrolled to allow Hinchcliffe to close him down and block his eventual shot. However, he made no mistake from the resultant dead ball, rising to head into the roof of the net to spark fevered celebrations.

The lead lasted barely four minutes, though, with Canavan showing good strength to hold off Joe Magunda and turn in Sam Walker’s corner from just inside the six-yard box.

There was a further delay after a Stockport pitch invader appeared to make contact with Breeden who had to be restrained from seeking retribution. Stewards were then prevented from ejecting the perpetrator who escaped into a surrounding field before later finding his way back into the ground.

With nine minutes of additional time indicated there was still plenty of time for both teams to snatch a winner.

However, with Brakes starting to look leggy, it was the visitors who took advantage, with Jimmy Ball’s peach of a cross guided into the far corner by Oswell to complete his hat-trick.

Leamington’s race was run and it was Stockport who came nearest to adding to their tally, Walker curling a free-kick on to the top of the home net.

Brakes: Tony Breeden, Richard Taundry, Connor Gudger, Joe Clarke, Jamie Hood, Joe Magunda, Rob Thompson-Brown (Tom James, 90+1) Junior English, Colby Bishop, Callum Gittings (Milan Butterfield, 70), Ahmed Obeng (Liam Canavan, 59). Subs not used: Stefan Moore, Kurtis Revan.

Stockport County: Ben Hinchcliffe, Dan Cowan (16 Ben McKenna 65), Connor Hampson (Sam Walker, 70), Harry Winter, Michael Clarke, Chris Smalley, Sam Minihan, Jimmy Ball, Jason Oswell, Matty Warburton, Darren Stephenson (Scott Duxbury, 46). Subs not used: Ian Ormson, Harry Brazil.