Brakes stop Saints from returning to winning ways

Gareth Dean gave Brackley Town the lead against Leamington
Gareth Dean gave Brackley Town the lead against Leamington

There seems to be no separating Brackley Town and Leamington in their Vanarama National League North meetings.

The two sides drew 2-2 at St James Park in another enthralling clash on Boxing Day. After three straight defeats, Saints looked to be heading for a much-needed win but it was not to be as Kieran Dunbar bagged the late equaliser.

Saints reversed an early setback to lead at the break but could not find a crucial third goal, missed a penalty, and Leamington levelled so that the festive fixture finished all square, as it did twice last season.

The first half was a rugged and tight encounter of few chances but three goals. Leamington went ahead with a 17th minute penalty by Colby Bishop before Saints levelled in the 33rd minute, strong work by Lee Ndlovu to win the ball and put Adam Walker away set up Jimmy Armson to finish from close range.

Within five minutes Saints got their noses in front as Gaz Dean struck his shot from 20 yards and more to find the top corner and turn the tables on the Brakes.

The second half was altogether more open and when Ndlovu was tripped in the box, Saints were awarded a 51st minute penalty. Ndlovu stepped up to take the ensuing spot-kick only to see Tony Breeden save to his left.

Dean’s goal-line clearance from Junior English’s fierce shot kept his side in front as Saints piled on the pressure searching for a third goal. Matt Lowe’s fine run and shot was thwarted by Breeden before the officials got themselves in a tangle as Ndlovu was bowled over inside the box only for a free-kick to be awarded, after lengthy consultation between referee and assistant, on the edge of the area.

With 75 minutes gone, Dunbar’s shot found the back of the net after Dean had blocked the initial shot in a goalmouth scramble, bringing the sides level again. Despite great endeavour by both teams, neither could create the clear opening that would ultimately win the game.