Brakes endured another tough afternoon against a very good Solihull Moors side who took the opportunity to use a large number of their first team squad, writes Paul Edwards.
Despite not facing the Moors for four years there are still plenty of connections between the clubs, with Tony Breeden, Junior English, Callum Gittings and Jack Edwards having turned out for Solihull, while Liam Daly and more recent Brakes players Matty Stenson and Jordan Murphy were on the visiting side.
Breeden was up to his usual antics outside of his penalty box early on, trying to take the ball past Murphy to clear only to be penalised. James Mace got up well to head the resulting free-kick to the edge of the box, Terry Hawkridge driving first-time just past the post.
Tim Flowers’ men opened the scoring inside the opening ten minutes, and on the day that last season’s top scorer Colby Bishop left the club to sign for League 1 Accrington Stanley, Matt Stenson returned to find the net against his old team-mates, pouncing on a poor kick out from Breeden to flight the ball perfectly over the backpeddaling keeper and into the net.
Having smashed in seven goals in five pre-season games for Brakes 12 months ago, Stenson clearly had the bit between his teeth as he looks to prove that he is worthy of a regular place in Solihull’s starting XI.
He enjoyed an entertaining battle with Junior English, in the first half particularly, and looked more and more threatening as the visitors picked up the pace after the goal.
However, they were rocked back on their heels in the 23rd minute as they inexplicably shot themselves in the foot.
Josh March did well to find fellow Brakes new-boy Cieron Keane on the left and he put a low ball across the face of goal from the touchline that Harry Flowers turned into his own net under no pressure from anyone.
Breeden ensured the teams went in all square at the break, doing well to parry a stinging drive from Danny Wright from the edge of the box.
Solihull were ahead for a second time seven minutes into the second half, however.
Murphy was brought down just outside the box and Hawkridge took full advantage, steering a powerful low free-kick in off the post.
Murphy himself then went close as he hit a shot into the ground and against the top of the crossbar.
Edwards did well to win a header inside the Moors penalty area which Kaiman Anderson almost latched on to, a defender getting a foot in to deflect the ball behind.
With just over 20 minutes to play, Murphy became the second former Leamington man of the afternoon to score as he finished from close range following a pass from new signing Paul McCallum.
March came close to reducing the deficit when he smashed in a vicious drive that Ryan Boot did well to block.
In Paul Holleran’s absence, Martyn Naylor and Tom James used all their available substitutes including three trialists.
This has been a testing week for Leamington, with three tough warm-up fixtures, and they will surely enjoy more of the ball and more scoring opportunities in their next couple of games.
Brakes: Tony Breeden (Ben Newey, 80), Junior English, Jack Lane, Joe Clarke (Triailist, 80), Jamie Hood, James Mace (Trialist, 66), Josh March (Connor Taylor, 75), Callum Gittings (Reece King, 47), Kaiman Anderson (Trialist, 75), Jack Edwards, Cieron Keane (Kian Taylor, 66).
Solihull Moors from: Ryan Boot, George Carline, Jamie Reckford, Liam Daly, Harry Flowers, Kyle Storer, Jordan Murphy, Ryan Nesbitt, Terry Hawkridge, Matt Stenson, Danny Wright. Second-half substitutes: Lee Vaughan, Tyrone Williams, Alex Gudger, Mellis Bushaj, Darren Carter, Jamey Osbourne, Nathan Blissett, Paul McCallum.