With the summit in sight after a midweek win at Cinderford, Leamington found the rarefied air too much for them, slipping to a thoroughly demoralising home defeat, writes Paul Okey.
Chippenham’s 2 -0 win at home to Biggleswade Town now leaves Brakes six points off top spot with four games left to play and it will need a remarkable turnaround for Paul Holleran’s side to avoid the play-offs.
An injury-time spot-kick from Stefan Moore could have limited the damage on Saturday but Kyle Phillips was equal to it to condemn Brakes to their first loss since January.
Moore again found himself on the bench as Holleran opted to go with the front three which had served him so well in recent weeks, while Darren Pond was absent performing best-man duties.
It had started so promisingly for the home side, with Ahmed Obeng latching on to Jack Edwards’ flick-on and forcing a smart stop at his near post by Phillips.
Obeng was again denied by Phillips in the 12th minute after a clever dinked ball from Edwards had caught out the Frome back line.
After an uncertain start, the visitors’ no-nonsense defence got a grip of proceedings and this allowed the Robins to show some attacking intent.
A quick free-kick to the left allowed Darren Jeffries to cut inside and unleash a shot which was blocked by the covering Jamie Hood. The centre-back was again in the right place to bail out Richard Taundry after the right-back had misjudged a spinning ball, getting his body in the way of another Jeffries effort.
Just past the half-hour mark, a stretching Edwards ignored the calls of a better placed Courtney Baker-Richardson to glance a Rob Thompson-Brown cross just past the far post.
Obeng was then put clean through by Callum Gittings but put his shot too close to the advancing Phillips who managed to deflect it away for a corner.
An incensed home bench was appealing in vain for a penalty after Edwards was bundled over challenging for a header, while Marcus Mapstone was denied by a post after getting up well from a Frome corner.
Ollie Knight then had time to pick his spot after latching on to a Chris Gregan flick-on. However, Breeden was down superbly to deny him with a strong right hand.
A determined run down the right from Baker-Richardson set up the first shooting chance of the second period, but Obeng found himself crowded out.
A Jordan Goddard shot into the side netting proved to be his final contribution, with Moore entering the fray to give the home attack more of a focal point.
It almost proved an inspired substitution with the striker released for a clear run at goal just past the half-way line. However, his lack of pace allowed the Frome defence to regroup and what had looked like the game’s defining moment ended with Moore falling over the ball and giving away a free-kick for handling.
Trickery on the left from Obeng allowed him to get in a cross which evaded the onrushing Leamington attackers, with referee Darren Wilding further winding up an increasingly fraught home contingent by spotting an infringement.
Desperate home defending snuffed out a promising move by Frome in the 63rd minute but the visitors were not to be denied, opening the scoring just 60 seconds later.
Jake Jackson brought down an awkward ball and held off the challenge of Joe Magunda before lashing a shot into the right-hand corner of Breeden’s net for his 15th away goal of the campaign.
The opener added the sense of urgency which had been missing from the hosts and a fierce Baker-Richardson drive was blocked by Phillips before Hood volleyed wildly over after Taundry’s long throw had been flicked on to him eight yards from goal.
George Miller and Ryan Bath linked up neatly on the right to set up a headed chance for Knight who was unable to finish off both the opportunity and Brakes.
Substitute Jordan Walker was the next to let Brakes off the hook, skewing his shot well off target from the D after Taundry had been robbed trying to run the ball out of play.
Obeng was unable to get anything on the ball after flinging himself at Gittings’ mishit shot as it flashed past the far post and Moore was then denied by a strong parry from Phillips after cleverly heading the ball over the last man.
With play entering injury time and Breeden now almost a constant presence in the Frome half, Moore got one more chance to test himself against Phillips.
Gittings sent a high ball into the box after Frome had averted the initial danger and despite Bath’s clearance seemingly having little to do with Breeden, the keeper’s theatrical tumble saw referee Wilding pointing to the spot.
Moore stepped up but Phillips was in no mood to be beaten, diving away to his left to parry away his sidefoot effort and leave Brakes’ title aspirations now relying on an almighty stumble from Chippenham.
BRAKES: Tony Breeden, Richard Taundry, Connor Gudger, Jordan Goddard (Stefan Moore, 56), Jamie Hood, Joe Magunda, Courtney Baker-Richardson, Callum Gittings, Ahmed Obeng, Jack Edwards, Rob Thompson-Brown (Kurtis Revan, 72). Subs not used: James Mace, Tom James, Charlie Hornby.
Frome: Kyle Phillips, Krissy Miller, Chris Gregan, Sam Teale, Marcus Mapstone, Clayton Green, Ollie Knight, George Miller, Jake Jackson (Ryan Bath, 77), Mikey Bryant (Jordan Walker, 85), Darren Jefferies. Subs not used: Ben Cleverley, Josh Jefferies.