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Midland Combination Division One
Sat 1 Dec 01

By Roger Vincent

Leamington in Scintill-eight-ing Form at Holly Lane as Perry Grabs Three

Many of, about, 200 travelling fans were asking, before the game, where the goals were going to come from with strikers Blake, Agar and Miyoba all absent. In the event Brakes equalled their biggest-ever margin win with Neale Perry, who notched a hat-trick after 14 barren, previous appearances, the star. Brakes were physically fitter and stronger than Holly Lane and coped much better with very muddy conditions scoring four in each half to a single, Holly Lane strike at the end of the first.

A pitch inspection at 10am brought back memories of last season and a 20 minute deluge just before the teams ran out gave the fans a choice of negotiating huge puddles in the car-park or walking through muddy grass on their way twixt bar and pitch. But the two "bike sheds" on the ground provided adequate shelter and amplified the Brakes' fans noisy support.

It was clear that the mud would play a role and Holly Walk looked vulnerable early on making more mistakes with a slippery ball and lacking the strength and fitness of Brakes. In 15 minutes Ariss, at wing-back, scored his second goal of the season when Mort slipped a ball to Shearsby who powered down the right before releasing a low cross which Ariss drove home, 0-1. Webb's strength was creating possibilities with every move and Ariss nearly grabbed a second from his cross before he slipped a ball through for Mort to swing over a high ball from which Perry soared high to head home his first goal for Brakes in the 23rd, 0-2.

Three minutes later Webb headed home a Thompson cross which was disallowed for an infringement and was unlucky again when an on-song Ariss broke down the wing and crossed only for the ball to bobble in the mud as he fastened onto it in front of goal. But in the 35th Perry grabbed a second from a superb inswinging corner from Thompson when he rose to head in from under the bar, 0-3. Perry was playing with the confidence of a natural striker recovering from a lean spell and, with Thompson flying down the wing, further goals seemed inevitable. In the 35th Thompson released a thunderous shot from 30yds which shook the square, metal bar and came to Ariss who drove home his second, 0-4. In the 40th Holly Lane grabbed a consolation through a superb shot from 20yds but the half ended with Shearsby heading just wide after good work by Ariss and Mort.

Ariss left the field with a twinge in a back muscle in the 48th and was replaced by ex-RC Warwick player, David Care, for his first appearance. With Holly Lane coming more into the game Morris saved well and Care impressed at the back, noticeably for his distribution from defensive positions, a class above most teams in this league. Dhesi came on for Mort in the 61st and Brakes looked as if they might be settling for a comfortable 4-1 win in trying conditions. But in the 66th Webb got his reward for a magnificent performance when he outstripped a flagging defence to pick up a loose ball in Holly Lane's half and round the goalkeeper, 1-5.

Three minutes later Webb robbed a defender and fed Thompson whose powerful run and cross was headed home by Shearsby, 1-6. This was a superb performance of power and skill with football that denied the difficult conditions. With Dix on for Sidwell in the 70th Brakes continued to attack the Holly Lane goal and Thompson, with a crashing shot well saved, Care and Dhesi all went close before Shearsby slotted his second of the afternoon in the 87th from a Timms cross, 1-7. There was still time for the crowd's new hero, Perry, to grab Brakes' 8th and his hat-trick in the 90th, 1-8, to crown a superb personal, and team performance when he drove hard past a despairing goalkeeper.

Brakes were unstoppable on the day against a side who had played well at the New Windmill earlier in the season to lose 1-0. The Holly Lane goalkeeper, who made some good saves, was sanguine in defeat and asked if I could recommend a back specialist as he was feeling the effects of picking the ball out the net so many times. Not so good humoured were two other Holly players who, sadly, took it out on each other leaving one holding his eye after an unedifying bout of fisticuffs.

Leamington: Richard Morris, Kevin Ariss (David Care 48), Will Payne, Liam McGovern, Tom Sidwell (Andrew Dix 70), Nick Mort (Harj Dhesi 61), Darren Timms, Glen Webb, Neale Perry, Barry Shearsby, Steve Thompson [Capt.]

Team news: Brian Agar is injured (dodgy toe) and Simon Wickson has to have a hernia operation but should be back "after Christmas". Harj Dhesi has NOT gone to Massey, or anywhere else (good news) and maybe we haven't seen the last of Ian Billington either (more good news).

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