There was relief all round at the New Windmill on Saturday as Leamington finally arrested their slide down the Southern Premier League with victory over Frome, writes Paul Okey.
A stunning strike from Connor Gudger and a poacher’s finish from Ben Mackey sealed the win against a Frome side who played with adventure out of keeping with their precarious league position.
Despite picking up just two points from their previous 18, Leamington started confidently with Jack Edwards’ delicate cross-shot drawing a sprawling save from visiting keeper Darren Chitty.
Richard Taundry then whistled a long-range shot past the near post.
Jon Davies tried to embarrass Tony Breeden after the Brakes keeper raced out of his area to clear, but with the goal gaping, he could not direct his long-range effort on target.
Jake Jackson then tried his luck from 40 yards as the visitors again looked to exploit the home skipper’s tendency to go walkabout.
Ben Mackey’s first sight of goal saw him sting the palms of Chitty with a powerful half-volley.
A James Fry strike was comfortable for Chitty, while at the other end Breeden was relieved to see Darren Jefferies’ vicious shot crash off his near post and away to safety.
Edwards then drew a smart save from Chitty with a clever back-header from Taundry’s long throw.
Edwards’ prowess in the air was causing problems for the visitors who were employing both fair means and foul to disrupt the midfielder.
However, when Edwards’ frustration eventually boiled over, it was team-mate Jamie Hood who was on the receiving end of his red mist after both players challenged for the same header, with their verbal exchange definitely one for after the watershed.
Jefferies started and finished a slick move which was not matched by the final shot and Breeden’s major source of concern was coming from his own defenders’ errant back-passes.
After a high-intensity opening 25 minutes, the game became ragged with little in the way of goalmouth action until the 41st minute.
Taundry needed two bites of the cherry to get a decent delivery in and his second cross was met by Fry whose powerful header was tipped over the bar by Chitty.
Ben George then flashed in a tempting cross, with Gudger picking up the pieces and flashing a shot narrowly wide.
Connor Roberts produced a superb block on the edge of the six-yard box to deny Mackey after he had turned on an Edwards flick-on and the half drew to a close with Hood drawing another save from Chitty.
George Miller’s 25-yard effort was deflected over the bar soon after the restart but the Robins corner came to nothing while Chilton was wildly off target with an early effort for the hosts.
Marcus Mapstone’s foul on Mackey earned Leamington a free-kick on the edge of the box with the home side arguing that the offence had occurred inside the area and the dead-ball came to nothing.
Breeden was again scrambling across goal after a wayward back-pass, this time from George, but it was one of few alarms for the home stopper as Brakes impressively snuffed out the Frome threat after the break.
Scoring chances were also in short supply for the home side so when the goal came it was very much unexpected, especially the source.
Lee Moore laid the ball off to Gudger 25 yards from goal and there seemed little threat when the left-back moved the ball on to his unfavoured right foot. However, he swung through the ball with conviction and his curling effort beat Chitty and dipped just under the crossbar.
A first-time effort from Edwards went over before Frome were gifted with a gilt-edged chance to level in the 79th minute.
Taundry was dispossessed in midfield, presenting the visitors with a four-on-three overlap.
The ball was shifted wide to Jefferies but Breeden was out quickly to smother his shot.
With their winless streak stretching back to November there was understandable agitation on the home bench as the flimsiness of their lead was underlined.
However, those fears were allayed less than a minute later when Mackey outmuscled Dan Cleverley and confidently rifled the ball past Chitty.
Brakes: Tony Breeden, Ben George, Connor Gudger, James Fry (Joe Magunda, 90), Jamie Hood, Jamie Tank, Lee Moore, Richard Taundry, Ben Mackey (Will Green, 89), Jack Edwards, Lee Chilton (Rob Ogleby, 60). Subs not used: Ross Oulton, James Mace.
Frome Town: Darren Chitty, Kris Miller, Sam Teale, George Miller, Connor Roberts, Marcus Mapstone, Jon Davies, Darren Jefferies, Jake Jackson, Dan Cleverley, James Fitzgibbon. Subs not used: Ricky Hulbert, Jordan Walker, Josh Jefferies.