ANOTHER hearty performance from Leamington made it five games unbeaten on Tuesday night, as the Brakes shared the spoils with AFC Fylde at the Community Stadium.
Paul Holleran’s ten-man side looked set to fall to defeat against The Coasters after Danny Philliskirk’s opener early in the second half, a task made harder by Callum Gittings’ straight red just before the hour mark, only for Sam Osbourne to save the day deep into stoppage time in the eventual 1-1 draw.
It means the 13th-placed Brakes are on course for an unbeaten November in National League North should they avoid defeat at home to York City this Saturday (3pm), in complete contrast to the opening three games of the season – which now appear a distant memory based on current performances.
Last weekend’s 3-0 victory at Curzon Ashton, in which Osborne again found the net in addition to teammate Jack Lane and Douglas Tharme with an own goal, sent Leamington into the midweek encounter in good stead.
It was no surprise then, that Holleran opted for the same starting XI which served him so well in Greater Manchester, though it was Fylde who started the brighter of the two sides.
While some half chances went astray for the visitors, Alex Whitmore registered the first attempt on target with a header which drew Jake Weaver into an outstretched save.
Ben Tollitt was next to go close, dinking a seemingly goalbound lob over the Brakes custodian, only for the ball to drop outside of the post.
Philliskirk sent a darting shot inches past Weaver’s goal, while a Tollitt free kick was unlucky not to find the top corner as the visitors cranked up the pressure.
Fortunately for the hosts, the scoreline remained goalless at half-time as Leamington were afforded the opportunity to regroup and reassess their approach to the game.
While the Brakes did well to withstand the barrage of Fylde pressure for the entirety of the opening half, it took less than a minute of the second for the visitors to deservedly hit the front.
With Luke Conlan venturing dangerously down the left flank, the resulting cross fell perfectly onto the head of Philliskirk to pick out the back of Weaver’s net.
The breakthrough goal initially appeared to strike new life into the home side with penalty appeals waved away following the first real Leamington attack of the game – Jack Edwards seeing a close-range volley blocked by an opposition player.
Weaver had to be alert to deny Philliskirk a second down the other end before the biggest talking point of the game arrived in the form of an early bath for Gittings.
After stretching for a ball just out of his reach, a wave of Fylde protests for the defender’s dismissal were ultimately granted, leaving Leamington with a mountain to climb.
Despite being shorthanded, Leamington were relatively untroubled in comparison to the opening hour besides a Jordan Hulme attempt that clipped Weaver’s crossbar.
With four minutes of additional time indicated, a second stoppage-time goal in successive home games came as a huge relief for the Brakes, when Osborne found the roof of the net after a bout of pinball inside the Fylde penalty area.