Leamington continued their solid start to life back in the Southern League with a fourth win from their opening five fixtures on a scorching hot afternoon at the Phillips 66 Community Stadium, writes Paul Edwards.
Visitors Bideford added colour and friendly banter to the occasion as their noisy band of supporters congregated under the car park terrace with the Brakes choir in the first half, and they were celebrating after only five minutes.
A free-kick struck from distance by skipper Richard Groves looked to be covered by Tony Breeden but the keeper made a hash of it under the crossbar and the ball crept in at the near post.
The goalscorer was as surprised as anyone that it had gone in, but they all count and Brakes had it all to do.
They responded in exactly the right manner, however, remaining patient and enjoying the lion’s share of possession as they searched for a way back into the game.
Ben Mackey had already stung the fingertips of keeper Kyle Moore in the opening minute, but despite pinning Bideford back in their own half for a spell after the goal, several corner kicks came to nothing.
A spark of inspiration was required and, as at Histon the previous Saturday, it came from the right boot of Lee Moore.
Cutting in from the left wing to devastating effect he made the most of the ball being knocked back into his path to ghost past several defenders before creating the space to drive low inside the upright to bring his side level.
Mackey forced a save from Moore at his near post as Leamington attempted to force a quickfire second.
Bideford threatened briefly just prior to half-time when Jordan Charran’s header flew wide of the post.
With the influential Richard Taundry withdrawn at half-time as a precaution due to a tight hamstring, Ross Oulton was handed the chance to get more game time under his belt as Leamington continued to probe for a second goal.
It duly arrived ten minutes in, Jack Edwards chesting Ben George’s throw into the path of Rob Ogleby, who struck a beautiful first time dipping volley over Moore and into the net.
Further goals could and probably should have been added to the tally as Brakes produced some fantastic football in and around the Bideford penalty area, with just the final ball lacking on occasions.
Mackey was played into the area by Gudger before fashioning a shooting chance, with his powerful drive parried away by the keeper, before the same combination saw another shot blocked.
Will Green entered the fray late on and immediately caused problems for the Bideford defence with his pacy, direct running, drawing several free-kicks from tired legs.
One such dead ball from just outside the box was struck low towards goal by Gudger, the ball pinging off the outside of the post.
Another free-kick won by Green was driven dangerously across the face of goal by Oulton in the closing stages, with Nick Milton inches away from put the ball into his own net at the far post.
A couple of late free-kicks for the visitors came to nothing as Paul Holleran’s men ensured they kept pace with early frontrunners Chippenham.
BRAKES: Tony Breeden, Ben George, Connor Gudger, Joe Magunda, Jamie Hood, James Mace, Rob Ogleby (Jake Jones, 84), Richard Taundry (Ross Oulton, 46), Ben Mackey (Will Green, 78), Jack Edwards, Lee Moore. Subs not used: Kieren Westwood, Lewis Fenney.
Bideford: Kyle Moore, Ian Sampson, Nick Barker, Sean Downing, Dan Tapp, Nick Milton, Richard Groves (Ethan Phillip, 81), Jordan Charran (Billy Tucker, 59), Kevin Squire (Ben Wood, 63), Stephen Reed, Matt Andrew. Subs not used: Angus Wilson.