Brakes get off to a great start before adding a fine finish at Dunstable
Creasey Park was unrecognisable from Leamington’s previous visit back in 2009 having undergone a complete facelift.
The vast wooden stand which provided shelter from the awful weather that night has been replaced with an impressive-looking low-roofed structure that is now the hive of the club.
The welcome was very friendly and hospitable and that extended to the pitch as Paul Holleran’s side seized an early advantage.
Jamale McKenzie-Lowe fired an early shot wide for the hosts but some smart teamwork saw Leamington move in front in the third minute.
Richard Taundry found Ben Mackey out on the left with his usual pinpoint accuracy and, while he was forced a little wide, the striker held on to the ball and fed Lee Moore, who laid it back into the middle for Ross Oulton. The midfielder make space for a vicious low drive that the unsighted Paul Bastock did superbly well to save with his legs, but Jack Edwards was on to the loose ball in a flash to squeeze it under the veteran stopper and into the net.
Taundry forced Bastock into another smart save from a powerful low, swerving drive as Mackey and Moore combined again on the left to similar effect, while Tony Breeden fielded a shot deflected through to him from Adam Watkins at the other end.
Oulton and Jamie Hood both picked up cautions to add to the growing frustration that Brakes might be gaining a reputation after the glut of red cards in their two defeats this season.
Mackey used his strength to muscle a defender out of his path before thundering a shot inches past the post before Dunstable started to become more involved in an attacking sense.
McKenzie-Lowe had a header held by Breeden, who showed great reactions in the next attack to spring across his goal and produce a fine one-handed save to deny David Keenlyside’s curling shot that looked destined for the top corner.
The Dunstable midfielder was presented with a gilt-edged opportunity to level things up early in the second half but somehow directed his first-time shot on to the post from right in front of goal when it looked easier to score.
Mackey forced Bastock into a save down at his near post as he got the better of his marker again on the left but the home side continued to ramp up the pressure as they searched for an equaliser.
James Mace, in particular, made a number of timely interventions on debutant Victor Osubu, whose pacy, direct running down the left threatened to cause havoc on more than one occasion.
He forced another save from Breeden when connecting with a right-wing cross, but hit his shot straight at the Leamington skipper.
Jake Jones was quickly involved in the action after stepping off the bench, winning a corner from which his shot was blocked inside the box.
Fellow substitute Michael Williams had a low shot saved before Osubu came close to a spectacular leveller for Dunstable, crashing in a strike from the left that Breeden got the faintest of touches to to help it on to the inside of the post.
He then sent another effort bouncing across goal and just past the far post as his side piled on the pressure in the closing stages.
Substitute Gary Wharton crashed a volley just wide as he latched on to a loose header from Jones, and a header was deflected behind as the game entered the final throes of injury time.
It was from the resulting corner that Breeden got a good connection to the ball to punch clear. Moore was first to it and instigated a devastating counter attack, beating his man on halfway and threading the perfect pass through for substitute Will Green to run on to and finish low past the advancing Bastock with almost the last kick of the game.
It really was a cruel blow for the hosts, who had put everything into a fine second-half performance, but Brakes showed the kind of defensive resilience that they will need to display on a regular basis, particularly when a free-scoring Stamford visit in the FA Cup on Saturday.
Dunstable: Paul Bastock, Zack Reynolds, Luke Pennell, Danny Talbot, James Kaloczi, Shane Blackett, Adam Watkins, David Keenlyside (Curtis Shaw, 78), Jamale McKenzie-Lowe (Gary Wharton, 78), Steven Gregory (Lorenzo Ferrari, 67), Victor Osubu. Subs not used: Ryan Plowright, Tony Fontanelle.
Brakes: Tony Breeden, Ben George, Connor Gudger, Ross Oulton (Michael Williams, 66), Jamie Hood, James Mace, Rob Ogleby (Jake Jones, 70), Richard Taundry, Ben Mackey (Will Green, 78), Jack Edwards, Lee Moore. Subs not used: Kieren Westwood, Lewis Fenney.