Parker pounces to earn Brakes vital win
Leamington ground out a hard-fought victory over Southport this afternoon to rack up their first league success of 2020, writes Paul Okey.
Joe Parker’s 83rd-minute strike was enough to seal the three points, with the match ending in controversy as Southport harangued the officials following the non-award of a penalty for what they deemed a high boot to the head of substitute Bradley Bauress.
It was clear early on that the strong wind blowing down the ground was going to be a major factor in the game and it was Southport who had the benefit from the kick-off.
Striker George Newell wasted a free header in the 11th minute and James Mace, in his 400th appearance for the home side, was then bravely in to block a goalbound shot from Jack Doyle, the defender requiring treatment after the ball hit him full on in the face from close range.
A long-range effort from Russell Benjamin never threatened, while Ryan Astles rifled wide after a scramble in the home box as Brakes struggled to clear their lines in the face of the howling gale.
Astles was then in the right place at the other end, clearing off the line after Jack Edwards had beaten goalkeeper Daniel Hanford to a Stephan Morley free-kick.
Jack Storer flashed a shot across the face of goal but there was little pattern to the play as both sides struggled to adapt to the wind.
In fact, the conditions were nearly the architect of the opening goal, with Doyle’s deflected shot looping up into the air and needing the smart intervention of Jake Weaver as it swirled around and threatened to drop in under the bar.
Brakes would have been glad to get in at the break goalless, but it could have been so much better, with Parker ballooning the ball over the bar from close range after Edwards had knocked an up and under from Stephan Morley into his path.
With the elements in their favour in the second half, Brakes enjoyed more of the territorial advantage and twice came close to breaking the deadlock, first through Callum Gittings whose sweetly struck strike fizzed past a post and then Edwards who, picked out by Walters from a corner, cushioned his sidefoot effort narrowly wide.
Weaver was able to watch an acrobatic effort from Jack Sampson over his bar and as play opened up and Newell enjoyed a period of freedom which saw him get three shots away without testing Weaver.
Substitute Kaiman Anderson picked out Morley from a pre-planned corner routine but the left-back was unable to get decent purchase on his strike, dragging his shot wide.
Brakes got their noses in front in the 83rd minute. Neat build-up play on the right saw Edwards find some space on the byeline and his swirling cross was not dealt with by the visiting backline, allowing Parker to rifle home the loose ball from the penalty spot.
It had looked a game that might be settled by one goal very early on and there was little in the closing stages to threaten that assessment until the very last seconds of added time.
Bauress went down in the box after a high boot looked to connect with his head but despite referee Dean Watson stopping play, it was not to award a penalty, to the anger of the visiting players and bench but to allow treatment for the substitute.
Tensions rose as the Southport players chose to take their complaints to the referee, then the assistant referee and then anyone that might listen.
However, Watson remained unmoved and Brakes’ first three points of the new decade were assured.