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FOOTBALL: Clarkson joins Brakes.

Byline: PHIL HORSFALL

LEAMINGTON have signed Ian Clarkson.

They have recruited the former Birmingham City, Kidderminster Harriers and Nuneaton Borough defender from Stafford Rangers .

Clarkson is the first "big name" signing by Premier title-chasers Brakes since the club's rebirth in 2000 and he has agreed to play without wages or expenses.

Director football Dave Draper said: "We don't pay players, Ian lives in Balsall Common and he told me that he is happy to play here for fun rather than battle his way up the M6 for a few quid a week."

Clarkson will be available for midweek matches and most Saturday games - but he is unlikely to appear in tonight's top-of-the-table battle with Alvechurch at Harbury Lane, a game that Leamington accept they cannot afford to lose.

Leamington pipped Coleshill Town 1-0 on Saturday through a 68th-minute goal by Steve Thompson while Alvechurch were cruising to a 3-0 verdict at Continental Star and Brakes joint-boss Jason Cadden said: "We could have won by more but we were happy with the one goal and three points.

"We expect a hard battle tonight, but we have 14 games left and we will just keep slogging away."

The top four are in action tonight in games that could provide a vital pointer to the eventual destination of the Premier title.Apart from Leamington, three points clear at the top of the table, hosting third-placed Alvechurch, Rugby Town, who head the Worcestershire club on goal difference, entertain fourth-placed Coventry Marconi at Webb Ellis Road.

Marconi and Rugby warmed up in contrasting style.

The Coventry side stretched their unbeaten run to seven games with a 1-0 defeat of sixth-placed Highgate United at Allard Way and Rugby battled out a disappointing 1-1 draw at lowly Feckenham.

A rare header from Jamie Towers from fellow sub Scott Moloney's deep cross with 19 minutes remaining secured victory for Marconi in a rugged clash with Highgate who had a player sent off for two bookables a couple of minutes later.

The back-four of Danny Green, James Woodhouse, Terry Ward and Carl Nolan were again in top form as Marconi kept their third successive clean sheet while Marc Smith and skipper Craig Civzelis worked hard in midfield.

Marconi boss Paul Mills said: "Highgate came with a game plan and tried to intimidate us but we stood up for ourselves."

Rugby joint-boss Craig Robson said: "We had seven players out through injury, unavailability and suspension at Feckenham and, although we were not happy with just a point, it was better than nothing.

"Feckenham were no mugs and they fully deserved the draw. It's a tough league and I've always said that if a title-chasing club is not on top of their game then a club near the bottom is good enough to upset them, and this was proved yet again."

Dave Aston put Rugby ahead following a smart interchange between Steve Laws and Mick Thompson but Feckenham equalised near the end from their only chance. Rugby will again have key men out tonight and they are expected to introduce a couple of new signings.

Massey Ferguson overcame bottom-but-one Southam United 2-0 in a low-key affair thanks to an early goal by John Woodhouse, after he had skipped his way past three players and the goalkeeper, and Danny Sharples, who netted from the edge of the area after a corner had been half-cleared. Massey visit Pershore tonight while Southam host Romulus.

Kenilworth Town's new boss Steve Sykes, of Alveston and Racing Warwick fame, made a winning start with a 4-0 Division One success at Holly Lane thanks to goals by Mark Simmonds, Mark Wells, Jeff Arnold and Richard Gould.

Debutant Mark Taylor was man of the match while fellow new signing Simmonds and Kevin Cragg were also outstanding in defence. Keeper Warren Ayres, another new man, pulled off a couple of smart stops.
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Coventry Evening Telegraph (England)
Date:Feb 18, 2003
Words:642
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