Batchelor’s strike banishes bitter Barwell memories

Leamington players celebrate with Richard Batchelor after his match-winner at St Neots. Picture Sally Ellis
Leamington players celebrate with Richard Batchelor after his match-winner at St Neots. Picture Sally Ellis


This was not quite Brakes back to their best, but after the crushing low of the defeat to Barwell, Paul Holleran’s side responded on Saturday with a performance full of character and determination, writes Paul Edwards.

There was certainly plenty to occupy the visiting defence in the opening 45 minutes with long periods being played out in the Leamington half.

Lewis Hilliard flashed a shot just wide inside the first minute, while Laurie Walker clung on to a long-range free-kick from Jay Davies that was heading for the top corner.

He then pushed behind a powerful drive from Dan Jacob at his near post after the midfielder had been set up by former Brake Ben Mackey.

Stefan Moore, who was making his first return to his former club, took on Adrian Sear and Gavin Hoyte before sending a swerving drive just wide, while Craig Owen directed a low headed effort wide from James Mace’s right-wing cross.

However, the hosts continued to pose a threat, mainly through free-kicks, Walker pushing over one such effort from Davies.

Leamington began to show more purpose in the second half and Saints keeper Jack Giddens was forced into his first save of the game when he pushed over Stephan Morley’s fierce free-kick.

Lee Chilton came even closer when his first-time volley bounced off the underside of the bar and on to the goalline before being headed behind.

Moore almost created an opening when he chased down a back-pass and nicked the ball away from Giddens, but was just unable to pick out Ricky Johnson in the six-yard box.

Jamie Hood then headed over the bar from Chilton’s cross.

The only goal arrived in the 66th minute when Richard Batchelor cut in from the right and beat a defender before curling an inch-perfect effort over Giddens and into the top corner to add another impressive strike to his tally this season.

This sparked Leamington into their best period of the game and they came close to doubling their advantage when Johnson evaded a challenge down the left and moved forward before laying the ball off for Owen to strike a first-time drive just over the bar.

The hard-working midfielder then drew a somewhat fortunate save from Giddens as his flicked header struck the goalkeeper’s legs.

Hilliard struck the top of the Leamington bar with a free-kick and two more efforts from dead-ball situations came to nothing late on as Brakes defended stoutly to secure the points.

St Neots: Jack Giddens, Ryan Auger, James Sage (Theo Davis, 82) Adrian Sear, Jordy Nkinga, Gavin Hoyte, Lewis Hilliard, Jay Davies, Kyle Asante (Dubi Ogbonna, 49) Ben Mackey, Dan Jacob. Subs not used: Tom Wood, Jack Werndly, Niall Conroy.

Brakes: Laurie Walker, James Mace, Stephan Morley, Craig Owen, Jamie Hood, Liam Daly, Joe Magunda, Lee Chilton, Stefan Moore, Ricky Johnson (Lee Moore, 82) Richard Batchelor. Subs not used: Martyn Naylor, Tom James, Matt Dodd, Niall Cooper.