Obeng breathes life into Brakes’ relegation fight

Brakes match-winner Ahmed Obeng. Picture: Vince Taylor
Brakes match-winner Ahmed Obeng. Picture: Vince Taylor
  • National League North
  • Boston United 0 Brakes 1

Brakes proved they are far from dead and buried in terms of National League North survival as they battled their way to a much-needed three points, their first in five games on the road, writes Paul Edwards.

Ahmed Obeng’s 53rd-minute strike ultimately proved to be the difference between the two sides but Brakes looked more assured at both ends of the pitch than of late and certainly forged the better opportunities overall as they brought Boston’s impressive recent nine-game unbeaten streak to a shuddering halt.

Kicking towards their small but noisy band of travelling supporters, Brakes set out their stall early on, keeping their shape and making the hosts work hard to break them down.

Jay Rollins drove an early effort in to the near post which was held by Tony Breeden, while the returning Matty Dodd left Pilgrims left-back Stephen Grogan walking a disciplinary tightrope after he was booked for pulling the debutant back as he squeezed past him on the right touchline.

Ashley Hemmings’ low strike lacked the power to trouble Breeden, while Gregg Smith showed good technique to volley a first-time effort towards goal but the shot was straight at the Leamington skipper.

Brakes bided their time and began to create forward movement of their own and their first chance was a good one, Obeng nudging a pass left for Connor Gudger to strike first-time and wide.

Smith was next to go into referee Simon Mather’s notebook for leaving his foot in on Breeden, the home fans vehemently disagreeing with the decision. The striker was perhaps lucky not to be sent for an early bath when his attempt to win a penalty was waved away shortly afterwards.

A neat move between Callum Gittings, Daniel Udoh and Kieran Dunbar saw the latter’s shot deflected through to Boston keeper Jon Stewart, while Obeng was clattered by Ryan Qualter right on the edge of the box as Brakes pressed once more. Richard Taundry’s free-kick struck the defensive wall but Dodd won a corner from which Gittings thumped a free header over the bar.

Dunbar was unfortunate to have the ball hit a divot as he was played into a great position by Udoh inside the box, the ball flying over the crossbar. Smith then headed on for Rollins to nod straight at Breeden.

Boston began the second half on the front foot with Reece Thompson doing his best to unsettle the Leamington defence but he was well marshalled by Taundry and Junior English, who was a colossus along with James Mace in the centre of defence.

The key moment came eight minutes into the second half, Obeng nipping in to pounce on Wes Atkinson’s back-header towards Stewart and skipping past the keeper to steer a low shot across goal into the far corner.

Brad Abbott’s shot deflected off English into the arms of Breeden as Boston searched for an immediate reply and the former Solihull and Worcester man made a heroic block to deny Andi Thanoj after Smith had done well to head Hemmings’ left-wing cross back into the centre.

Hemmings fired a free-kick straight at Breeden after English had gone into the book but it was Brogan who came closest for Boston with their next dead ball from a similar position, clattering the top of the bar with his effort.

The home fans were already irate but their discontent intensified when Thompson was shown two yellows in a matter of seconds after appearing to throw the ball at the grounded Gittings after being pulled up for a foul on the same player.

The man advantage did not last very long, however, as Brakes substitute Joe Magunda was making the long walk less than five minutes after stepping on to the pitch following a poor challenge on Abbott in the centre circle.

The home fans sensed blood and urged their team forward but in truth Boston never really got going throughout and Leamington had several chances to break in the seven minutes of added time.

Obeng tore into space up the left and into the area, striking the outside of the post with his shot and the win was confirmed when Boston substitute Benny Igiehon’s back-header tamely dropped over the Leamington bar.

Boston United: Jon Stewart, Wes Atkinson (Jamie McGuire, 67), Stephen Brogan, Andi Thanoj (Benny Igiehon, 75), Jordan Keane (Taron Hare, 29), Ryan Qualter, Jay Rollins, Brad Abbott, Reece Thompson, Gregg Smith, Ashley Hemmings. Subs not used: Kabongo Tshimanga, George Willis.

Brakes: Tony Breeden, Richard Taundry (Jamie Hood, 87), Connor Gudger, Joe Clarke, James Mace, Junior English, Matt Dodd (Joe Magunda, 76), Kieran Dunbar, Daniel Udoh, (Stefan Moore, 90+2), Callum Gittings, Ahmed Obeng. Subs not used: Kurtis Revan, Liam Canavan.