Brackley Town’s promotion hopes took another blow on New Year’s Day when they suffered a 3-1 away defeat at Leamington.
Saints, who have taken just two points from their last four fixtures, are down to sixth in the Conference North table, six points off leaders Telford.
A brace from Stefan Moore and Charlie Griffin’s reply for Saints sent the sides into the refuge of the changing rooms at half-time with Brakes leading 2-1 on a New Year’s Day of high wind and driving rain at the New Windmill Ground.
Ricky Johnson’s fine finish on 80 minutes wrapped up the win for the home side and inflicted a further setback for Brackley, who slipped out of the top five on a day where the top four all won.
The game was dominated by both the atrocious weather and the difficult conditions they created under-foot and the outstanding performance of Brakes’ star-man Stefan Moore, who scored twice and turned provider for the third.
Moore finished emphatically from a fine cross on 17 minutes, exploiting defensive frailty and on 25 minutes neatly beat the offside trap to finish clinically past Billy Turley.
Within moments, Saints grabbed a life-line as the hosts failed to clear a corner and Griffin forced the ball home.
Saints enjoyed the greater possession after the break, winning a succession of corners and came closest to the equaliser when Ryan Austin found himself wide on the left and crossed into the danger zone but Brett Solkhon could not connect.
However, Leamington were always a threat on the break. On the hour they were denied what appeared to be a clear penalty, the referee awarding a free-kick on the edge of the penalty area instead, and on 80 minutes Moore broke on the right, reached the by-line and crossed for Johnson arriving late to slam the ball past Turley to make it 3-1.
Saints played their full part in a remarkably good game in treacherous conditions for a Bank Holiday crowd of over 500 but will be pleased to see the back of a dismal festive season that has brought little points return and only frustration.
Amid their poor run, Jon Brady has bolstered his squad by signing former Stevenage midfielder David Bridges.
Brackley Town: Turley, Cartwright (Story 60), Nisevic, Odhiambo (Newton 64), Sharpe (Mills 81), Austin, Reid, Solkhon, Griffin, Diggin, Walker.
Leamington: Breeden, Higgins, McNamee, Magunda, Daly, Mace, Dodd, Owen, S.Moore (W.Green 90+2), Johnson (Morris 81), L.Moore (J.Green 88).
Referee: John Brooks