Severely limited in their team selection, with four squad members unavailable, Avenue were still able to give in-form Leamington a run for their money before succumbing to a narrow defeat.
Despite an overall below-par performance in the opening half hour, Avenue came close to scoring twice before half-time. With the game still goalless, Eddie Church put in a near-post cross from the right and, in the blink of an eye, Will Longbottom’s poke towards goal from close in beat the goalkeeper only to be cleared away by a covering defender.
George-Sykes Kenworthy made one excellent low save from a close-range header, but had little chance to stop a fierce shot giving the lively home side the lead after twenty minutes.
Then, as the interval approached, Harrison Hopper’s chip over the keeper from Sam Fielding’s well-weighted ball over the defence saw a defender again in position to clear off the line.
Avenue began to get more of a foothold in the game in the second half when Leamington’s attacking threat diminished. Luca Havern had a goal disallowed for an alleged foul in the build-up and Jacob Blyth volleyed narrowly wide from 25 yards, but Avenue had to wait until the closing minutes to apply any pressure.
Then, throwing men forward, Jacob Blyth tested the keeper with a header and a shot by Sam Fielding from the edge of the box was fortuitously deflected wide of the post with the Avenue players appealing in vain that it had struck the defender’s arm.
Once Avenue start scoring on a regular basis, and this may only be a game away, they could well become a tricky opponent but, in the meantime, a lack of goals is naturally causing frustration for players and fans alike.
Manager Mark Bower had this to say about the game: ‘We need something to go for us. We don’t seem to get any kind of thing go our way’ – in particular referring to Luca Havern’s disallowed goal after Eddie Church had appeared to be clattered into in the box.
And, despite feeling Leamington should have had a further goal for their early dominance, their manager Paul Holleran followed a familiar theme by saying his side had to dig deep and that they just about edged it at the end.
Team: Sykes-Kenworthy; Odunston, Staunton; Lund, Havern, Fielding; Brooks (Johnson 76), Longbottom (Smith 65), Blyth, Church, Hopper. Unused subs: Hall, Eze.
Avenue Bookings: Havern, Staunton.