Bradford Suffer First Defeat At Hands of Brakes

Leamington condemned Bradford (Park Avenue) to their first defeat of the season despite a late rally from the West Yorkshire side.

The hosts started the game on the front foot, piling a lot of pressure on Leamington as they looked to assert their dominance early on.

Chris Dawson and Jake Beesley had shown signs that an impressive partnership was developing during the win over Blyth Spartans, and they picked up from where they left off against the Brakes.

They combined well to release Beesley in the opening three minutes and the forward won a corner when he was felled by James Mace. Nicky Clee’s delivery found Shane Killock, but the defender’s header was hooked away from danger by Jamie Hood.

Beesley then connected with a free-kick delivery from Nicky Wroe but looped his header over the crossbar.

The on-loan forward was the target of several deliveries and he headed narrowly wide minutes later when he connected with a Ben McKenna cross.

Leamington began to grow into the game as the half wore on and caught their first glimpse of goal when Matt Stenson headed wide after stooping to meet a Joe Clarke cross.

The hosts’ best opportunity came barely a minute later when Stenson rattled the crossbar with a header and Jamie Hood’s follow-up was blocked.

The chances seemed to breathe life into Leamington and the latter stages of the second-half were much more closely-fought.

Connor Taylor found space on the left-hand side of the box but blasted wide despite being in acres of space.

Dawson had an opportunity to open his Bradford account when Ryan Toulson drilled a cross in from the right, but he leaned back and blazed over.

With half-time looming, the brakes found another gear and took the lead with a devastating counter-attack. Toulson challenged Callum Gittings but the deflection was picked up by Stenson, who accelerated and tucked the ball away in the bottom corner.

The hosts started the second-half in similar fashion to how they finished the first and doubled their lead just four minutes after the restart. Shane Killock could only clear a corner as far as Gittings om the edge of the box, who rifled into the bottom corner.

Stenson then made an incisive dart into the box but fired wide under pressure from Luca Havern.

Stenson made his way into the box again moments later and this time, found the target. Drench was helpless as the forward’s well-struck effort flew past him and nestled in the bottom corner.

Adam Nowakowski was introduced on the hour mark and began causing problems instantly. He chased a seemingly lost cause before winning possession and pulling back to Oli Johnson, who delivered for Beesley but watched as the forward flicked wide.

As Bradford looked to defy the odds and overturn the deficit, they piled bodies forward in a desperate search for opportunites. A Beesley header was hooked off the line and McKenna drove an effort into the clutches of Breeden.

The winger then unleashed a curling effort towards goal that flew barely an inch wide of the post.

Nowakowski brought down a lofted pass from Conor Branson magnificently, but lifted a half-volley over the crossbar.

Late drama then ensued as Killock connected with Jamie Spencer’s cross and caused the roof of the net to bulge with a powerful header.

Barely a minute later, McKenna delivered the ball on a plate for Johnson and the striker steered home.

Hope of a comeback, however, was killed when Dwyer converted past Drench with a neat finish after escaping Killock.

Leamington: Breeden (c), English, Bowen, Clarke, Hood, Mace, Dunbar, Gittings, Stenson (Dwyer 75’), Edwards (Magunda 69’), Taylor (Steele 80’).

Unused substitutes: Morris, Obeng.

Bradford (Park Avenue): Drench, Toulson (Johnson 45’), Ross, Wroe (Spencer 58’), Killock (c), Havern, McKenna, Branson, Beesley, Dawson (Nowakowski 61’), Clee.

Unused substitutes: Atkinson, Boshell.

Referee: Scott Simpson