Leamington 0 Chasetown FC 1

With the League season just a fortnight away, Chasetown’s form continued to improve as they defeated Leamington 1-0.

Dean Perrow was missing due to an ankle injury, but the Scholars welcomed back Richard Batchelor and the inspirational Richard Teesdale as they travelled to their 2008/09 promotion rivals.

In the fourth minute Mark Branch’s 25-yard free kick was pushed over the bar by home keeper Chris Kiely as the visitors enjoyed an early onslaught, but prolific goalscorer Mark Bellingham soon had the Brakes’ first chance from a Simon Travis cross although Ryan Price was able to gather the ball.

Vaughan Thomas was alert to clear a shot from Chris Murphy who had Price beaten on 21 minutes as Leamington fought back, and on the half hour there were vociferous appeals for a penalty from the hosts for an apparent handball but these went unheeded.

Danny Smith fired wide ten minutes later but the flag was up for offside, and a close and competitive half ended scoreless.

Gary Birch

Gary Birch

Three minutes into the second half the deadlock was broken when Kiely stopped a Branch free kick but the ball rebounded to Gary Birch who sent a right-footed shot bouncing into the net for his first goal of the season.

Birch could have made it two four minutes later but headed a cross from Batchelor over the bar, and the Scholars continued to pressure the Southern league newcomers with some attacking and positive play, Ben Steane then rattling the woodwork with a 30-yard free kick after Smith had been fouled.

On 66 minutes a corner was lobbed into the goalmouth by Steane and Thomas headed over the bar, and the action moved swiftly to the other end but no Brakes player was able to connect to Ryan Parisi’s cross.

Birch’s replacement Craig Marshall unleashed a blockbuster of a shot on 76 minutes which rattled the home crossbar, and Price was called into action twice more including stopping a shot from Murphy in the closing minutes.

Chasetown are next in action next Saturday as they face Nantwich Town (3pm kick-off) before taking on Walsall two days later (7.45pm kick-off).

Leamington: Kiely (Burn 85), N Broadhurst, Travis, Gregory (Sanders 41), Parisi, Reynolds (Palmer 54), Murphy, Jackson (Tuohy 55), Corbett (Ahsraf 77), Bellingham, Stanley (L Broadhurst 64).
Chasetown: Price, Miller (Holland 70), M Branch, Slater, Thomas, Teesdale, Steane (L Smith 85), Greenway, Birch (Marshall 64), D Smith (Egan 77), Batchelor (Harris 64).  Subs: Milligan, Birt (GK), Woodvine.

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