It was a case of big crowds but big disappointment on Saturday as
Leamington once again failed to topple arch-rivals Rugby at The New
Nearly 800 fans braved the wintry weather for the annual clash of the
titans, which proved to be as tight as ever with neither side able to
break the deadlock - and get away with it. Co-manager Barry Proctor
joked they needed a Russian linesman after the only goal of the game was
ruled out because the ball had allegedly gone out of play.
Paul Nicholls and Harj Dhesi had combined to free Ben Adams on the right
wing, who sprinted down to the goal-line before pulling it back for
skipper Darren Timms to score. But the linesman flagged that Adams had
crossed the line and the goal was disallowed for the second time in as
many home fixtures against Rugby. Proctor said: "It was a very tight
game as usual - it always is against Rugby.
"There were a couple of controversial incidents towards the end when
the goal was disallowed because Ben's cross had gone out. "We had a
few substitutes warming up in that corner at the time and Si Walker was
adamant that it hadn't crossed the line. We could've done with a
A second controversial moment struck moments after the disallowed goal
when Rugby's Paul Gibbons was given his marching orders. Having already
been booked in the first half for a series of heavy challenges on Timms,
he pulled Andy Ellis down just outside the area. And despite Ellis'
protestations, the referee sent him off. The two incidents appeared to
fire up the home side, who had been bolstered by a 771-strong crowd, and
several shots were pelted in the direction of a
very in-form Ian Brooks in the Rugby goal. The first half had been fairly
quiet in contrast to the drama of the last 20 minutes, even though the
stereotypical derby-day spirits were in abundance.
There was no shortage of passion on the field as challenges flew in from
all corners, maybe fuelled by the muddy conditions.
Leamington's defence dealt well with the highest-scoring team in the
division, with Tom Sidwell and Andy Gregory performing an admirable job,
while both Adams and Johnny Burgess at full-back frequently switched
defence to attack with a near-devastating effect. But despite the efforts
on goal from Timms and Paul Nicholls, the match seemed doomed to end
goalless with both keepers in top form.
Proctor said: "Both their keeper and ours did really well because
there was a lot of goal mouth action. "Overall, we were very pleased
with the players' performance, although we would've liked a win."