MIDLAND COMBINATION PREMIER DIVISION
SATURDAY 10th JANUARY 2004
LEAMINGTON 2 v 0 COLESHILL TOWN
Coleshill travelled to promotion contenders Leamington hoping to halt a run of three consecutive defeats, but although Town had a couple of chances late in the game, the home team were comfortable winners in front of 343 spectators.
Steve Lees was suspended for this game but luckily Frank Woodburn returned to take his place and Simon Bradbury, a virtual ever present last season, transferred back to Coleshill after a spell with Castle Vale.
In a poor first half the play was confined to the midfield with neither keeper seeing much action. Coleshill played some neat football but lacked penetration, whilst Leamington kept possession well as they probed for an opening but were continually thwarted by a resolute defence where both Woodburn and Downer impressed. On the half hour however Leamington broke the deadlock with a well worked goal but Coleshill will be disappointed they didn?t defend it better. Captain Steve Thompson was pinned in near the corner flag but still managed to get in an excellent cross and Barry Shearsby arrived unchallenged to firmly head home. Chris gee shot from distance and James McKenzie nearly capitalised as the keeper fumbled but recovered. Frank Woodburn had to be at his best as he firstly tackled to clear for a corner then rose to head clear the resulting kick. Craig Jones made the first of many fine saves as the Brakes stepped up the pace, but Coleshill were calm and controlled and were able to repel most of what the visitors threw at them. On the stroke of half time Woodburn again made a saving tackle but as the attacker went down in a heap the referee pointed to the spot. Derek Wilkes kicked the ball away in frustration as was duly booked. Shearsby confidently stoked the ball home but the kick had to be retaken because of encroachment and this time Craig Jones made a fine save.
James McKenzie was crudely tackled from behind in the first minute of the second period, the offending player not even spoke to by the referee. McKenzie struggled on for a few minutes but it was obvious he couldn?t carry on, and must be a major doubt for the next game. A Coleshill free kick was unconvincingly punched clear by the Leamington keeper and Chris Davies narrowly missed the target when attempting to lob the ball into the unguarded net. Another free kick fell to Pete Hall but his shot hit the side netting. Shearsby?s shot from distance brought out a fine save from Jones as he tipped over for a corner. Hall shot 1st time just wide then a sweeping pass from Woodburn found Wagstaff whose shot was saved at the near post. Leamington midfielder Episcopo tried his luck from distance and saw his effort hit the bar, then Leamington increased their lead when debutant Stuart Herlehy got on the end of a Shearsby cross. Carl Smith arrived late to get on the end of a Wagstaff cross but the ball wouldn?t come down and the chance had gone. Leamington substitute Martin Thompson looked lively as he twice warmed Jones?s hands with rasping shots. Coleshill were enjoying their best period of the game and were given a lifeline when the referee awarded a penalty for pushing when a corner kick arrived into the box. There did seem to be clear contact but you would be disappointed if it was given against you. Chris Davies took the kick and although he struck it well enough the keeper guessed right and palmed it away, the ball however, landed at the feet of Mitchell Thompson who shot first time only to see his effort hit the bar. The Leamington keeper again punched clear a Coleshill free kick and this time Wagstaff attempted to chip home but his effort just cleared the bar. The game finished with man of the match Craig Jones making yet another fine save.
Team;- Craig Jones, Chris Gee, Frank Woodburn (Simon Bradbury), Ashley Downer, Derek Wilkes, Carl Smith, Chris Davies, Danny Nixon (Gary Falconbridge), James McKenzie (Mitchell Thompson), Pete Hall, Kevin Wagstaff.
LEAMINGTON 2 v COLESHILL TOWN 0
Midland Combination Premier division Sat 10 Jan 04
By Roger Vincent
Herlihy Gets Clincher Four Minutes Into Brakes' Debut
New signing, midfielder Stuart Herlihy, came off the bench in the 64th minute and scored the winner with a powerful downward header in the 68th from a Shearsby cross to add to Shearsby's own 25th minute header from a Steve Thompson cross. Both sides missed penalties and Episcopo, who was at the heart of most of the creative moves, also hit the bar in an entertaining game before 343 fans. Martin Thompson returned from injury in the 71st and Parisi made his first start after eight appearances off the bench in a comprehensive vistory against a Coleshill side who promised more than they delivered.
It was a blustery day at the New Windmill and, although the promised downpour didn't materialise, this was a slippery pitch after a lot of rain in the last 48 hours. 343 fans, below the average this season of nearly 400 but OK for the time of year, were there to see what promised to be an interesting match after the excellent mid-week win at Marconi following the home defeat last Saturday. Also of concern was what effect the impending FA Vase contest next Saturday might have.
Early signs were promising with Sleem lobbing the ball just wide in the 6th minute for what would have been a trademark Sleem goal and Shearsby running from his own half in the 13th only to finish with a tame shot. A minute later Episcopo and Sleem combined superbly but the ball just ran away from Episcopo as he rounded the Coleshill 'keeper. A feature of this early play was the creative display by Episcopo, who was at the heart of every move, and the delicate skills of target man Sleem.
Despite a scare in the 15th when Sidwell rescued Brakes with a saving tackle it was all Leamington and the pressure told in the 25th minute when Shearsby made it 1-0 with a superb header. Episcopo started the move, threading a ball through for Blake who released Steve Thompson on the left. Thompson skipped like a youing colt to the goal-line and delivered a pin-point cross onto Shearsby's head.
Episcopo was behind most moves but there was a heartening understanding between all of the midfield and front runners that hasn't been so apparent in some matches. Steve Thompson, Blake and Shearsby combined to release Parisi in the 33rd and Timms had two chances in a minute, a low drive from a Blake pass and a run on goal which was thwarted at the last. The only concern was that the left flank seemed a little exposed but Coleshill's right wing-back couldn't make the space count though better teams might.
With the half drawing to a close Brakes sought the comfort zone of a second goal before half-time. Blake and Sleem exchanged a superb one-two with Blake's shot just wide and Shearsby ran through and sent over a cross that just eluded the industrious Blake. Then Blake ran into the area with the 45 up and was upended. Shearsby crashed home the resulting penalty but the referee ordered it to be retaken because of encroachment and this time the 'keeper made a good save.
A little bit of edginess crept in to the start of the second half. Coleshill were not often threatening and Brakes' excellent defence was coping well when they did. But memories of Feckenham maybe played a part as Brakes resorted to the hoof upfield rather than the patient approach play that is always more effective. Morris punched clear in the 51st but only to a Coleshill player who returned it but, thankfully, well wide. Brakes started to come back into the game with Parisi showing his worth, first wriggling through into the area and then combining with the excellent Walker to set up a strike for Shearsby that was palmed over by the 'keeper.
New signing Stuart Herlihy, signed in the week and also eligible for the Vase, came on in the 64th minute for his Brakes' debut and made an immediate impact. He looks strong and easy on the ball and also adds some height to what is still a relatively small side. He nearly made his mark with an interchange with Parisi in the 67th that set up Episcopo whose shot from 25yds crashed against the bar. But the biggest change in Brakes at this stage was that they were keeping possession and denying Coleshill opportunities though one goal never seemed enough. Then, in the 68th minute that was put right when Herlihy made it 2-0 in the 4th minute of his debut when he powerfully headed the ball down into the net from a Shearsby cross for a dream debut.
And, as if that wasn't enough for the cheering fans, Martin Thompson made his comeback after long-term injury coming off the bench in the 71st. Sleem nearly added to the score a minute later when he juggled the ball into the Coleshill area and shot just wide then used his power and skill, in conjunction with Shearsby, to release Martin Thompson who was adjudged offside. In the 78th, in what was nearly (not for the 1st time) a tale of two Thompsons, Martin crossed for Steve to run in from the left for another close call for the Coleshill 'keeper.
Kristensen came on for the last 10 minutes, returning from a holiday in his native Denmark then a week's suspension for the red card earned at Alsager in the Vase, to further emphasise Brakes' strength in depth that must favour Leamington in the run-in to the tile race. With Brakes well in control the referee awarded a late penalty to Coleshill, in the 87th, presumably for an infringement though it wasn't obvious and no-one was booked. But eight minutes of agonising tension were avoided when Morris, whose handling in the greasy conditions had been exemplary throughout, dived to his right to keep the ball out though then he could only watch as the penalty-taker latched onto the rebound but crashed the ball against the bar.
Leamington: Richard Morris; Ryan Parisi (Martin Thompson 71); Simon Walker; Tom Sidwell; Andy Gregory (Niels Kristensen 79); Anthony Episcopo; Barry Shearsby; Darren Timms (Stuart Herlihy 64); Vernor Sleem; Josh Blake; Steve Thompson [Capt]
First Team Match Reports 2003-2004
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