Joel Richards Memorial Cup Second Round
Phillips 66 Community Stadium
Wednesday 15th November
It was a calm but cold evening at the Philips 66 Community Stadium as young Brakes welcomed Premier Division North side Wednesfield for the first ever meeting of the clubs.
This was the 2nd round of the Joel Richards Memorial Cup, a compitition named in memory of the young referee so tragically gunned down by whilst on holiday with his family in Tunisia last year. This was always going to be a tough game with Brakes sitting unbeaten at the top of the Eastern Division and the "cottages" sitting 3rd in the Premier Division North having put together a recent string of good results.
The game began with Brakes in their gold and black strip kicking towards the Harbury Lane End with Wednesfield in blue and black stripes, white shorts and blue socks as their away colours. Kavan Hopkinson had been recalled to the Brakes goalkeeper position after a layoff and was tested immeadeately when called upon to make a diving save at the feet of the advancing Kieran Cook. Minutes later Wednesfield's number 11 Soms Sabinda charged into the box and smashed a shot against the near side post.
In a frantic opening to the game Brakes Jack Winiarski ran 25 yards to fire in a shot wide of the post. Wednesfield were playing a high press game and playing the game in the Brakes half restricting Leamington to long balls up to Winiarski and Patryk Swiercz, both of whom showed their pace by getting round the back of defenders when running with the ball.
On 27 minutes Swiercz from one such move forced a corner from which Brakes opened the scoring, with Winiarski sneaking into the 6 yard box to flick the ball home. 1-0 Leamington.
The lively Cook burst through on goal only for Joe Bridge-Brown to put in a solid tackle to thwart the move, but on 35 minutes it was 1-1 as a neat through ball from the Wednesfield defence beat the offside trap leaving the pacey duo of Cook and Sabinda in acres of space, a 25 yard unchallenged run and a unprotected keeper for Cook to tap in to the empty net.
As the time went on the Brakes defence were struggling to cope with the energised strike duo and Sabinda tourmented the defence on four occasions down the right flank and only some fine defensive work kept the score in check, but right on the stroke of halftime following a corner Sabinda was brought down on the edge of the box for a penalty which Lewis Gill duly despatched. Half time Leamington 1 Wednesfield 2.
The second half began with Brakes under the cosh in the first 7 minutes.Brakes made a clever tactical substitution moving Shay Nicholson to centre back shoring up the defence and nullifying the attacking threat of Cook and Sabina to great effect, and introducing Nathan Dodd to the midfield role. Almost immediately Leamington put together a clever one touch move involving 6 passes from their own half along the left touch line to find Swiercz who was hauled down as he set to shoot from 12 yards. Jack Winniarski calmly placed the penalty to make it 2-2.
Brakes were now in the accendency and good efforts from Lewis Annals and Ross Quatermaine were saved by the keeper and both Swiercz and Winarski went close as Brakes enjoyed their best spell of the game. But Wednesfield are a tough side and Brooks went close hitting the post from a well placed free kick and 2 minutes later Brakes keeper pulled out a super full length save from a blistering free kick from 25 yards out.
Wednesfield's Gill was booked for a cynical foul on Swiercz who had cleverly turned him some 30 yards out with a clear run on goal. With 10 minutes to go a breakaway by substitute Gabriel Brooks got a shot away whilst being brought down by two Brakes defenders and getting injured in the process, the ball ran across the face of the goal for Cook to bundle the ball home whilst under pressure at the far post. 2-3 Wednesfield.
Brakes continued to lay siege to the North Bank goal but resolute defending frustrated the efforts of the Brakes front runners.Then, in the final minute Winarski somehow got on the end of a well placed free kick only to be denied his hatrick, (and the penalty shoot out), by the post.The ball was hoofed hard and high only to find Cook in acres of space to run 25 yards and bury the ball past a stranded Hopklnson. The referee Mr Grant Taylor instantly blew the final whistle for the game to end. Leamington2 Wednesfield 4. A lively cup tie with the sides evenly matched and a touch of the " Brakes cup hoodoo " right at the end was tough on the Brakes lads who had worked hard against one of the better teams from the premier north league.