Southern League Challenge Cup 1st Round
Phillips 66 Community Stadium
Tuesday 4th October 2016
Brakes made progress in the Southern League Challenge Cup as three second half goals eventually saw off an enterprising Evesham United side in an absorbing game at the Phillips 66 Community Stadium.
Paul Holleran rotated his squad as much as he was able to, with injury ruling out Zak Lilly and Ahmed Obeng. Darren Pond was rested, while Joe Magunda, Tom James and Ben George all stepped into the starting eleven along with Ryan Quinn, who was making his full debut. What would surely have been a pleasing aspect of the performance from Holleran’s perspective was that despite the changes in personnel, the level of performance was still high. Leamington played some great football at times that was pleasing on the eye, and again scored some well worked goals.
The visitors, who had been on a good run in the South & West Division had made several changes of their own, and while there was to be no return for former Brakes keeper Kevin Sawyer there was another old face in the Robins side in the shape of Nick Stanley.
In a high octane opening, Evesham keeper Sam Gilder pushed a Rob Thompson-Brown cross away to safety, while Tony Breeden saw a shot behind at his near post as both sides made their mark, snapping into tackles and attacking quickly.
It was Leamington who hit the front on the 16 minutes however, Courtney Baker-Richardson heading a long goal kick from Breeden into the path of Ben George, who nipped in ahead of Stanley to crash a shot past Gilder for his first goal of the season.
The lead was to be short lived as the visitors were level within three minutes, Elliot Kennedy hooking in a shot at the far post after Breeden had blocked the initial ball in from the left.
The travelling supporters mistakenly thought their side had scored another when a shot hit the side netting, while Leamington did have the ball in the net for a second time - Ryan Rowe stabbing home a good ball in from James, only to be denied by the offside flag.
Brakes leading scorer would grab his ninth of the season in the second half to put his side back in front however, an intelligent ball from Baker-Richardson bisecting the visitors defence, Rowe timing his run to perfection as he slotted the ball through the legs of the advancing Gilder.
Some great play down the left involving James, Rowe and Thompson-Brown saw the left back pick up possession again before seeing a shot blocked, while Thompson-Brown played in George for a low drive that fizzed across goal and inches wide of the far post.
Baker-Richardson extended Leamington’s advantage with a classy third as he beat a hesitant Evesham back line to a long ball out of defence by James, outstripping Stanley for pace before bending a shot round Gilder into the net.
James was really making the most of only his third start of the season, and a superb cross field ball to the far side saw Thompson-Brown crash a first time volley just over the bar.
Gilder denied Baker-Richardson in another one on one, while Thompson-Brown fed Ben George again for another shot which was blocked by the by now overworked Evesham defence.
The visitors rallied briefly, a close range shot looked to have struck the base of the post and another was deflected through to Breeden, but Evesham had lost their first half zip and could have fallen further behind when Thompson-Brown almost combined with substitute Jamie Hood, the former directing his overhead effort straight at Gilder.
Baker-Richardson flashed a first time volley just wide but he was again involved in Leamington’s final goal right on full time, feeding James on the left after good work from Jack Edwards. He still had plenty to do to get a sight of goal, but danced between two Robins defender with some neat footwork before lashing a shot past Gilder for his first goal for the club, rounding off a satisfactory nights work for Brakes.
Leamington: Tony Breeden ©, Richard Taundry, Tom James, Ryan Quinn, Joe Magunda, James Mace, Ben George, Callum Gittings (15 Jack Edwards, 69), Ryan Rowe (12 Jamie Hood, 76), Courtney Baker-Richardson, Rob Thompson-Brown.
Subs not used: 14 Connor Gudger, 16 Martyn Naylor, 17 Matt Hill.
Evesham United: Sam Gilder, Liam Harding, Nick Stanley, Bradley Williams, Matt Sysum ©, Ashley Williams, Elliot Kennedy, Jordan Bryan (15 Jake Sloggett, 48), Lance Smith, Mark Magee (12 Lewis Binns, 61), Paul Fahy.
Subs not used: 14 Adam Mann, 16 Lorcan Sheehan, 17 Joe Turley.
Referee: Mr Mark Howes
Assistant Referees: Mr Simon Lane & Mr Mark Groves
Brakes Man of the Match: Tom James.