BRAKES' hopes of stretching their lead at the top of the ICIS Midland
Combination Premier Division table took a knock when Alveston produced a
quality performance in sub-zero conditions at the New Windmill on
Barry Proctor and Jason Cadden's men had to come from behind to salvage a
point from a game they could easily have lost to an Alveston side prepared
well by Marcus Easterlow. The match exploded into life after less
than three minutes when striker Paul Nicholls robbed Ben Huckfield on the
edge of the penalty area and cut inside before firing the ball past former
Brakes keeper Richard Morris in the Alveston goal. That filled the
home fans with optimism, but almost before they could draw breath their
team was back to square one. Vernor Sleem burst through a static Brakes
defence - a familiar sight in recent weeks - and neatly beat keeper James
Visibly growing in confidence as the game progressed, Alveston were a
match for their title-chasing hosts in all departments. That equality
turned into superiority when Scott Easterlow punished more slack defending
with a well-taken goal on 21 minutes. Stunning Brakes turned up the
heat after that, realising they had to match Alveston's impressive grip on
the slippery, hard surface.
As half time loomed Josh Blake had a header cleared off the line and
Morris produced a stunning save to tip Nicholls' goal-bound header over
the bar. Harj Dhesi went close from two free kicks.
Brakes turned up the pressure in the second half as they went in search of
an equaliser. Darren Timms had a shot cleared off the line and Nicholls
scuffed a shot when well-placed after a fine cross by Blake. The
increasingly chilly crowd thought their side's moment had come after an
hour when Nicholls slammed the ball into the roof of the net in a busy
penalty area. But amid the celebrations the referee bafflingly ruled it
out for offside. Refusing to dwell on the issue, Brakes continued to
press. It was cautious stuff in parts though; Alveston were still looking
dangerous. Blake finally got the equaliser 13 minutes from time, using his
speed and poaching skills to poke the ball over the line after Timms had
fired an excellent Andy Ellis cross against the underside of the bar.
In the closing stages defender Tom Sidwell had an overhead kick cleared
off the line and substitute Eden fired over from close range. Alveston's
David Givens had the best chance of all, only to fire wide when through on
goal. His furious body language suggested he knew it too.
Delighted Alveston boss Easterlow said: "Leamington put us under a
lot of pressure but as far as chances were concerned we matched them.
"A lot of my lads are from Leamington and they
didn't need much geeing up for the game."
Brakes boss Proctor said: "I know it was a derby but it was two
points dropped as far as I'm concerned. "But Alveston were very
competitive and Richard Morris played out of his