Another Saturday, Another Comeback… And A Hat-Trick Os-Well!
The Hatters edged, by the odd goal in five, their inaugural away-victory of the campaign and first win in three League games, thanks to a Jason Oswell hat-trick that doubled his season’s goal-tally to six – and despite having trailed at Leamington with fewer than five minutes of normal time left on the clock.
On a typically blustery afternoon at the New Windmill Ground (or the Phillips 66 Community Stadium, if you will), Oswell gave County the lead – only for the ‘Brakes’ to level with a penalty before half-time and then to get their own noses in front eight minutes from the end.
But, one week on from County’s comeback from a two-goal deficit to secure a draw against Harrogate Town, Oswell struck twice more to effect a remarkable turnaround – with the winner coming in the fourth minute of added time – and, in so doing, became the first Hatter to claim the match-ball in a competitive fixture since Kristian Dennis at Gainsborough Trinity during early 2014.
The Hatters took to the field showing just one change from their starting line-up at Salford City four days earlier. Having recovered from a groin injury, Michael Clarke returned to central defence in place of Scott Duxbury and as part of a revised 4-2-3-1 formation.
Playing with the wind behind them, the hosts, through Ahmed Obeng and and Richard Taundry, twice fired shots wide of County’s right post in the early stages.
But County soon came to exert a greater control on proceedings, and, after 16 minutes, went ahead when Oswell nodded home Connor Hampson’s lofted free kick, 25 yards out, from the left.
The Hatters were continuing to press when Leamington, in the space of three minutes, hit the crossbar twice – courtesy of an Obeng shot and a follow-up header by Junior English – saw Colby Bishop’s effort cross the line but ruled out for offside, and, finally, win a penalty after Obeng went to ground in County’s box under a challenge from Sam Minihan.
Rob Thompson-Brown duly sent Ben Hinchliffe the wrong way from the spot to level matters seven minutes ahead of the break.
HALF-TIME: Leamington 1 (Thompson-Brown (penalty), 38), County 1 (Oswell, 16).
Hinchliffe was immediately called into action following the resumption, and had to be at his best to save from Bishop when the Brakes’ striker was accelerating through on goal.
The contest then became something of a scrappy affair, punctuated, over the next half-hour, by stoppages, which resulted in Leamington’s replacement of the injured Obeng and Callum Gittings – and caused a six-minute interruption while Clarke was treated following an accidental clash of heads with Bishop, with County’s full complement of substitutions already taken up.
After 82 minutes, events appeared to have taken a decisive turn in Leamington’s favour, when substitute Liam Canavan, at the near post, headed in Thompson-Brown’s corner from the right.
But four minutes later, a corner on the right at the other end – delivered by Sam Walker – was volleyed inside the far upright by Oswell.
And midway through nine minutes of time added on, Oswell converted Jimmy Ball’s pin-point-perfect cross from the same flank, to complete treble-hauls in respect of both his individual goals and County’s collective points for the afternoon.
FULL-TIME: Leamington 2 (Thompson-Brown (penalty), 38; Canavan, 82), County 3 (Oswell, 16, 86 and 90 + 4).
Team: Hinchliffe, Cowan (McKenna, 65), Hampson (Walker, 70), Winter (Capt.), Clarke, Smalley, Minihan, Ball, Oswell, Warburton, Stephenson (Duxbury, 46).
Unused Subs: Ormson, Brazel.
Man of the Match (as judged for the Non-League Paper): Oswell.
Attendance: 844 (360 representing The Twelfth Man).
Reporter: Gareth Evans.
Photographer: Paul Bell.
Jason Oswell interview
Jim Gannon interview