Brakes racked up their third win on the bounce on Tuesday night, with Jack Edwards’ 75th-minute strike moving them to within striking distance of King’s Lynn in the final play-off place, writes Paul Okey.
There was an element of fortune about the goal, with the midfielder’s 25-yard effort taking a wicked deflection off a defender to deceive keeper Jamie Head.
However, the home side will feel they deserved their slice of luck after a performance brimming with intent.
Jamie Hood was missing due to illness while Rob Ogleby shared the attacking duties with Courtney Baker-Richardson, with Ben Mackey dropping to the bench.
Two successive away wins had reignited Leamington’s play-off push and they were almost gifted a first-minute opener when Rob Ogleby took advantage of two defenders dallying in the box to nip in and set up Edwards for a sidefoot effort which was blocked.
In an open start to the game, Connor Calcutt struck an ambitious effort from wide on the right which was comfortable for Tony Breeden before Dunstable thought they had opened the scoring.
Danny Talbot’s corner was not dealt with by the home defence and a couple of Dunstable touches took the ball towards the goalline. James Mace eventually got in the way of the ball and managed to dribble it away from danger, but the away players and handful of fans behind the goal were adamant the ball had already crossed the line.
Fresh from their let-off, Brakes quickly switched play to the other end and Ogleby’s cross from the right picked out Baker-Richardson whose sidefoot effort was cleared by a defender, with Head scrambling.
Sam Austin showed good feet on the edge of the box to get in a shot which Head could only parry back into the danger area, but there was no Brakes player there to capitalise.
Ogleby was on hand to pick up the pieces after another parry from Head, but the assistant referee’s flag was already up.
Slack defending from the hosts allowed the ball to find Steve Wales on the edge of the home box, but his tame effort was more back-pass than shot.
Austin then demonstrated his willingness to get a shot away, flashing an awkward half-volley into the Harbury Lane End.
Dunstable midfielder Adam Watkin’s excellent jinking run took him into the Leamington box and past a sea of trailing legs but his subsequent shot was blocked to leave the sides deadlocked at the break.
But despite the lack of goals from the hosts, the performance had already been several notches up from recent home displays and this pattern was to continue after the break as Leamington took a stranglehold on the game.
Lee Moore became more influential as he began to find pockets of space and he linked up well with Richard Taundry to work his way to the byeline. His measured ball into the box reached Joe Magunda but he was crowded out as he looked to get a shot away.
Taundry then showed an excellent touch to bring down Breeden’s pass before sliding in Ogleby whose shot was gratefully pounced on by Head.
Heads were in hands just short of the hour-mark when Ogleby squared the ball for an unmarked Moore four yards out. But with everyone in the ground expecting the net to ripple, Moore toepoked the ball past the near post before making much better contact with the advertising hoardings.
Moore then lashed a shot past the angle after Jamie Tank’s hooked effort had caused consternation in the visitors’ defence.
Brakes were going more direct in the closing stages and from Breeden’s punt forward, substitute Mackey outmuscled Adam Pepara before firing into the legs of Head.
Little had been seen of Dunstable as an attacking force in the second period and they had to wait until the 74th minute for their first effort on goal, with Watkin’s 25-yard strike comfortably dealt with by Breeden.
Just a minute later, Brakes were ahead.
Edwards took aim from 25 yards, with his drilled effort ricocheting off a defender to leave Head wrongfooted before nestling in the corner of the net.
After being penned back for the majority of the half, Dunstable belatedly roused themselves as they looked to find a way back.
A Howard Hall cross rattled the bar, with Breeden seemingly expecting the ball to go out for a goal kick, with Steve Gregory picking up the loose ball and firing straight at the Brakes skipper.
Austin was nearly the beneficiary of a second fortunate deflection with a shot from the edge of the box, but Head got down well to parry.
There was one final anxious moment for Brakes in injury time when James Mace was robbed by Watkin who cut inside and unleashed a wicked shot. However, Tank was well positioned to get his head in the way of the ball and keep the Brakes bandwagon rolling.
Roll on King’s Lynn.
Brakes: Tony Breeden, Richard Taundry, Connor Gudger, Joe Magunda, Jamie Tank, James Mace, Lee Moore (Ross Oulton, 80), Jack Edwards, Rob Ogleby (Ben Mackey, 66), Courtney Baker-Richardson (James Fry, 86), Sam Austin. Subs not used: Ben George, Eddie Caviezel-Cox.
Dunstable Town: Jamie Head, Zack Reynolds, Howard Hall, Danny Talbot (Lee Roache, ), James Kaloczi, captain, Adam Pepera, Adam Watkins, Steve Wales (David Keenleyside, 68), Connor Calcutt, (Chris Vardy), Steve Gregory, Gary Wharton. Sub not used: David Longe-King.