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Stourbridge 5 Leamington 1
6:51pm Saturday 5th January 2013 in Sport
BEN Billingham scored twice as super Stourbridge put rivals Leamington to the sword.
Jordan Fitzpatrick fired the hosts in front and Billingham quickly made it two when he pounced on an error by visiting skipper Jamie Hood.
Sean Evans got the third from close range, before Stefan Moore gave the visitors hope with a delightful goal on the stroke of half-time.
But second half strikes from Billingham and Luke Benbow completed a memorable afternoon for the Glassboys.
Pre-game all the talk had been about former Villa man Moore, fresh from a hat-trick on debut for the second-placed Brakes, with those predicting a Stourbridge were few and far between.
But writing the Glassboys off is never wise and once again Gary Hackett’s men chose a big game to put in a monstrous performance.
Stourbridge didn’t just beat Leamington, they buried in them and in the end the scoreline could have been wider.
The Brakes arrived knowing a win could send them top of the table but instead it was Stour who reminded everyone of their own title credentials.
It may only have been one game but throw in a few more showings like this and the season could yet get very interesting.
Evans forced visiting keeper Niall Cooper into a smart early save, while Matt Dodd’s rising half-volley had Stour stopper Lewis Solly at full stretch during a lively opening.
Evans was involved in much of the home side’s best work and set up the opener on 17 minutes, whipping in a cross from the left which was met by the late arriving Fitzpatrick, whose first time volley gave Cooper no chance.
Leamington’s players claimed there had been a foul in the build-up but they could have no complaints about Stour’s second three minutes later. Hood’s elaborate back header fell woefully short, allowing Billingham to nip in and round Cooper, before finishing from a tight angle.
Richard Batchelor volleyed straight at Solly as Leamington looked for a way back but ten minutes before half-time fell further behind. Cooper failed to hold Drew Canavan’s drive and Evans forced home following a goalmouth scramble.
It was vintage stuff from the Glassboys and Billingham came close to making if four with a header which hit the bar.
Leamington needed something special and got it three minutes into first half stoppage time when Moore beat Solly with a delightful volleyed lob, after Lee Moore had flicked the ball on.
Canavan forced Cooper into smart save with a rasping shot early in the second half, before Billingham missed a wonderful chance, firing wide after being sent clean through by Leon Broadhurst. The Stour skipper was also off target with another effort following great work by Benbow.
Stour were nearly made to pay for the missed chances when Hood was allowed a free header six yards out from Stefan Morley’s free-kick but Solly somehow managed to keep it out.
It proved a pivotal moment as just minutes later Billingham made it third time lucky 15 minutes from time after going clear again.
Stour’s skipper looked several yards offside but referee Grant Taylor ruled Morley had headed the ball on, playing Billingham onside.
Frustrated at the perceived injustice, Leamington looked visibly beaten and a delightful finish from Benbow after more suspect defending increased their pain.
Broadhurst nearly made it six with a header as the hosts cruised through the final stages.
GLASSBOYS: Solly, Canavan, Hurren, McCone (c), Fitzpatrick, Bennett, Osborne (Oliver 29), Broadhurst, Benbow (Nisbett 85), Billingham, Evans (McPike 85) Subs not used: Geddes, Dyson.
Goals: Fitzpatrick 17, Billingham 20 75, Evans 35, Benbow 80.
BRAKES: Cooper, Naylor, Morley, Owen, Hood (c) (Ward 82), Daly, Dodd, Chilton (Taylor 73), Moore S, Moore L (Johnson 73), Batchelor Subs not used: Mace, Berwick.
Goal: Moore 45.