Leamington drop into National League North relegation zone after defeat at Bradford Park Avenue

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Brakes dropped into the relegation zone in the National League North for the first time since the penultimate Saturday of the 2017/18 season as they were beaten 3-1 at Bradford Park Avenue.

There were three changes to the eleven which started against Blyth, with West Bromwich Albion loanee Ted Cann making his debut in goal following the unfortunate season ending injury sustained by Callum Hawkins.

Sam Perry made his first start in place of the suspended Joe Clarke, while Devon Kelly-Evans replaced Dan Turner, who dropped to the bench.

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Much as they had the previous Saturday Leamington began the match brightly, with Avenue keeper George Sykes-Kenworthy seeing a lot of the ball in the opening twenty minutes. However his only blemish was apparently carrying the ball over the line to concede a corner from which Jack Lane arced a header onto the roof of the net at the far post.

Leamington are in the relegation zone after defeat at Bradford Park Avenue.Leamington are in the relegation zone after defeat at Bradford Park Avenue.
Leamington are in the relegation zone after defeat at Bradford Park Avenue.

There was a brief scramble on the twenty minute mark as Lane headed a Bradford corner away from goal, but the home side were suddenly in the ascendancy, and inevitably heads dropped as Will Longbottom was played through to bury a low strike past the outstretched hand of Cann into the net.

The hosts added a killer second in first half stoppage time. There was a hint of offside as Brsd Dockerty ran through to place another low strike into the far bottom corner to leave Brakes with a second half mountain to climb.

The game could have been well and truly put to bed in the opening five minutes of the second half, as Cann saved well from Eddie Church’s header, before Harrison Hopper’s venomous strike cannoned off the underside of the crossbar and away.

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However, things were to go from bad to worse for Leamington as they lost two players in the space of 12 minutes. Jack Edwards had been booked in the first half, and was shown a second yellow card after what in real timelooked like a foul on him by Mitch Lund, who went down holding his face.

Lane’s header from substitute Ben Usher-Shipway’s long throw was kept out by a combination of Sykes-Kenworthy and the crossbar, before Louis Hall saw red for catching Harrison Hopper with his studs on the halfway line.

Things really were looking grim for Brakes now, and they fell further behind two minutes later when Hopper slotted under the diving Cann for Bradford’s third of the afternoon.

Theo Streete was then forced off injured, but despite being two men down Leamington rallied to score their first goal since New Year's Day. A powerful run down the right by Dan Meredith saw him pull the ball back inside the penalty area where it was missed by the hard working Ollie Hulbert, but Kelly-Evans was on hand to sweep it first time past Sykes-Kenworthy into the net.

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There was inevitably some disgruntlement among the travelling support at full time, but they left the Horsfall Stadium buoyed by a rallying cry from Jack Lane, who led several of his teammates in thanking them for travelling and asking them to stay with the team.

Brakes are well and truly in a relegation battle now, and welcome fellow strugglers Buxton to Warwickshire on Tuesday evening for another vital six pointer in which they will hope that their fortunes in front of goal will finally change.