Leamington 2 AFC Telford 2: Hicks penalty helps put Brakes on Telford’s title assault

Leamington inflicted further damage on Telford’s title challenge with a point at the New Windmill to add to the three they pocketed at New Bucks Head, writes Paul Okey.

Joe Magunda and Danny Newton appeal in vain for a penalty after Magunda is manhandled to the ground by Neil Byrne. Picture: Louise Smith Photography

It proved very much a game of two halves, with the visitors having the better of the first 45 minutes only to find themselves pegged back at the break as Brakes made the most of their scant opportunities.

However, in the second period it was Brakes who made all the running, with Telford persisting in long punts upfield to relieve the danger and showing little of the quality expected of prospective champions.

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Top of the league at the start of play, Telford began on the front foot. Andy Owens was crowded out in the box after Brakes had failed to deal with a long throw while Tony Breeden’s brave challenge at the feet of the advancing Shaun Whalley took enough of the pace off the ball to allow the covering James Mace to tidy up.

Yet again, though, Brakes were to concede a goal that will have had Paul Holleran tearing what is left of his hair out.

A long punt forward from visiting keeper Ryan Young was allowed to bounce by Liam Daly under pressure and as Breeden came out to mop up the danger, the ball was deflected away by Daly’s arm for the easiest of penalty awards.

Breeden guessed the right way, but was unable to get a hand to Adam Farrell’s spot-kick.

Farrell drilled a free-kick past the angle as Brakes wobbled but despite having rarely threatened, the home side were level in the 27th minute.

The equaliser showed the value of an ace goal poacher as a corner fell to Danny Newton at the edge of the box and the striker returned it with unerring accuracy through a crowded goalmouth, giving Young no chance.

Two minutes later, Breeden almost gift-wrapped a second for Telford, racing 30 yards out of his goal to challenge Whalley, who beat him to the ball but was unable to pick out a fellow attacker after being forced wide.

In the 34th minute, Telford were back in front, however, Andy Owens taking advantage of a static home defence to latch on to Matty McGinn’s miscued shot and slam it past Breeden.

Aron Wint slid a shot past the post and Newton was wayward with a long-range effort before Brakes were literally handed a way back into the game.

Owens got a full palm to Ryan Higgins’ long throw as he rose to clear it and referee Michael D’Aguilar wasted little time in pointing to the spot again.

With Matt Dodd on the bench, Nathan Hicks took the responsibility, sending Young the wrong way to take the sides in at the break level.

The half-time scoreline flattered the hosts, but they were a much brighter proposition attacking their favoured Harbury Lane End.

The willing Newton shot straight at Young before outmuscling Dan Preston to reach the byeline and lay the ball back for Hicks just eight yards out. However, leaning back, the midfielder failed to get a good contact and Neil Byrne was able to flick the ball away from goal.

A fierce shot from Newton was always going wide, while Reece Flanagan, who was beginning to grow into the game, muscled his way through two challenges but was unable to get enough purchase on his shot to unduly trouble Young.

There was a scare for Brakes when Owens robbed Stephan Morley, but with Breeden again in no man’s land, the striker was unable to direct his lofted effort under the bar.

Farrell should have done better for Telford when ghosting in unnoticed at the back post to latch on to a long throw, but he dragged his shot wide with his left foot when right would have been the better option.

A Daly header from a corner caused anxiety in the visitors’ box and there was more panic in the 68th minute when Joe Magunda appeared to be shoved while competing for a high ball.

Magunda’s prolonged protests eventually earned him a booking and there were further claims for a penalty at the other end when Whalley went down under a challenge from Mace, with D’Aguilar again unmoved.

Young was looking increasingly unsteady under the high ball but Brakes were unable to capitalise, with a 25-yard snapshot from Lee Chilton, which cleared the bar, the nearest they came to completing a memorable double over Liam Watson’s side.

Brakes: Tony Breeden, Ryan Higgins, Stephan Morley, Joe Magunda, Liam Daly, James Mace, Aron Wint (Matt Dodd), Reece Flanagan, Danny Newton (Ricky Johnson), Lee Chilton (Peter Till). Subs Not Used: Lee Moore, David McNamee.

AFC Telford United: Ryan Young, Wes Baynes, Matty McGinn, Neil Byrne, Dan Preston (Tony Gray), Simon Grand, Shaun Walley (Sean Clancy), Alan Moogan (Charlie Bennett), Andy Owens, Adam Farrell, Mike Grogan. Subs Not Used: Chris Lever, Andy Pryce