Leamington 2 Darlington 2
Scorers: Ainge (18 mins, 0-1), Saunders (32 mins, 0-2), Bishop pen (63 mins, 1-2), Edwards (69 mins, 2-2)
Darlington let a two goal lead slip against Leamington and had to settle for a 2-2 draw in Warwickshire.
It looked so good for Quakers when they led 2-0 after playing some superb football -- Leamington couldn't cope with their opponents' pace and movement -- but a penalty award to Leamington gave the home side the impetus just after the hour mark.
The match started in heavy rain -- just like last year when Stephen Thompson scored a hat trick in a 3-2 win. Quakers adopted a 3-5-2 formation.
Leamington defender Junior English was booked for pushing Harvey Saunders in the back as he latched on to a Simon Ainge pass on 4 minutes.
Joe Wheatley curled the free kick towards the top left corner, and Breeden just managed to push the ball around the post for a corner.
Wheatley then played a good ball over the top of the Leamington defence for Luke Trotman to volley into the middle, but the ball was headed away.
Stephen Thompson then played a good ball out right to Jordan Nicholson, who returned the ball into the middle where Thompson couldn’t quite control the ball six yards out.
There was a near thing for Quakers on 12 minutes when Edwards outjumped Jonny Maddison to a free kick, and headed towards goal, but Terry Galbraith hooked the ball away off the line.
Quakers took the lead on 18 minutes. Luke Trotman found Harvey Saunders with a great ball into the box. Saunders' low shot was parried by Breeden, and the ball ran for Simon Ainge to drive home his 4th of the season.
Nicholson nearly made it 2-0 with a left foot shot that went just wide, but Leamington went straight up the other end and Jack Edwards had a clear chance 12 yards out, but Galbraith stopped his effort on the line.
However, Quakers created another chance when a four man move ended with Nicholson firing left footed just wide from the edge of the box.
But Leamington created a chance again when Kieran Dunbar, unmarked six yards out, headed wide.
Again though, Quakers carved out an opportunity with some flowing football, when Thompson played a great diagonal ball from the right to the far post for Ainge to put a looping header just over the bar.
Quakers' enterprise was rewarded when they went 2-0 up on 32 minutes. Thompson threaded the ball through for Nicholson to get away, he was challenged, but the ball ran for Saunders to slot under the keeper into the net, his fifth of the season!
Leamington were down to ten men on 38 minutes when Dwyer was red carded for a foul on Ainge the halfway line – the third successive game in which Quakers’ opponents have had a red card.
It was nearly 3-0 when Henshall and Elliott combined well on the left and set up Nicholson, who put his right foot shot over the bar.
There was a feeling at half time that Quakers could have put the game to bed.
Leamington 0 Darlington 2
Thompson had the first shooting chance of the second half, a left foot shot that took a deflection and went wide, and when the corner was cleared to the edge of the box, he drove the ball over the bar.
Quakers were denied a third by a superb save on 55 minutes. Trotman made a great run down the right to find Nicholson, who crossed into the middle for Saunders to have a header well saved low down by Breeden.
Dave Syers came on for Tom Elliott just before the hour.
Quakers had a penalty shout on 58 minutes. Nicholson played the ball into the box where Ainge had a shot, and a defender seemed to raise his arm and block the shot. The referee though waved play on.
Leamington pulled a goal back on 64 minutes, when Thompson was adjudged to have handled a throw in, and the ref pointed to the spot, from where Bishop sent Maddison the wrong way.
Leamington had some momentum now and levelled on 69 minutes. They gained a corner on the right which went over to the far post, where Edwards forced the ball in.
Quakers nearly went back in front when Nicholson struck a left foot that was deflected and looped wide, but at the other end Maddison had to pull off a point blank save from Gittings.
Quakers had an opportunity on 81 minutes when Ainge nipped in behind the Leamington defence, but he couldn’t turn the ball home.
Ainge then beat two men as he turned in the box and went down under a challenge, but the ref again waved play on after Ainge's shot was saved.
Quakers had a chance to win it when Syers laid the ball off for Thompson, who pulled his left foot shot wide from the edge of the box.
Leamington 2 Darlington 2