A time added on goal gave Banbury United a share of the points in a 3-3 draw with Leamington at Harbury Lane. Brakes had their chances to put the match behind doubt, but they were unable to take them in a hard fought contest supervised by an inept referee.
Before the game a presentation was made to Josh Blake to commemorate his 400th appearance for the club on Tuesday. Blake appeared in the first match at the New Windmill Ground in August 2000 after the club was re-formed in Tier 8 of the non-league pyramid.
The Puritans brought a vociferous contingent with them in the crowd of 766, but Leamington were hardly quaking in their boots in the early exchanges. Bello put in a good shot to the near post on three minutes which was saved by the Banbury keeper at the expense of a Leamington corner. Bello turned provider for Jacko and his effort was just over.
On 14 minutes, Bello pounced on a loose through ball and banged it to rights to make it 1-0. Chris Kiely had to clear off the line and then Jamaican-born David Stone was fed a ball from the left wing and found himself one-on-one with Kiely, beating the keeper to level the score.
Bello beat the keeper, but he should have laid the ball off and the move broke down. Persistent fouls by Banbury charm merchant defender Ben Milner were ignored by the referee. Brakes had a chance in front of an open goal, but put the ball over.
Then after a save from Bello, Banbury swept down the slope and former Hook Norton ace Jon Coleman beat Kiely to make it 2-1 on 45 minutes.
Half time: Brakes 1, Puritans 2
Brakes had a chance just after the break to level the scores but Corbett's header went over. For a time it looked as if Brakes would not get back in the game as their attacks were contained by the Banbury defence, but then a rare free kick was fed to Bello in front of goal who made it 2-2. Shortly afterwards Liam Reynolds made it 3-2 on 69 minutes.
Brakes brought on new signing Dan Pirvu in place of Murphy. Pirvu has played his football in Austria, although his name sounds Romanian. His positioning was good and he looked calm and confident both on and off the ball. Beckley replaced Corbett for Leamington.
The Puritans brought on Howard Forinton to cries of 'Hello fatty! and offers of a bottle of Grecian 2000. The former Birmingham City player certainly looked well upholstered, but he was to prove Leamington's nemesis.
Kiely had to be treated for an injury after he had gone for the ball and he may have still been groggy. As the minutes ticked down, Brakes tried to keep the ball down the other end and succeeded for a while through a series of corners and throw ins. However, perhaps they should have tried to score because the Puritans broke away and on 92 minutes it was Forinton who slipped the ball inside the post.
One win, one defeat, one draw: welcome to the Zamaretto Premiership.
Happy 40th birthday Cadzy!