FA Trophy 1st Qualifying Round
Phillips 66 Community Stadium
Saturday 29th October 2016

Brakes suffered a pre Halloween horror show as they exited a national cup competition at the first hurdle for the second time this season, a single first half goal for visitors Mickleover Sports sending them into the next round.

The lack of an FA Cup run has become a source of frustration for all at the club over the last ten years or so but a little more success has been enjoyed in the Trophy in recent years, with another run to the competition proper last season. Sadly any hopes Leamington had of going on a similar run are now over before they had even begun, leaving the old cliche of ‘concentrating on the league’, which will hopefully prove to be a blessing in disguise in the long term.

The two sides had only met once before, in the FA Vase qualifying rounds back in 2002. Mickleover had progressed themselves since then, emerging from the regional leagues to compete at Step 3 for the first time with ambitions to push on.

They started nervously here as Leamington took the initiative in the opening exchanges, Jack Edwards heading off target and then shooting powerfully over the bar. Sports’ keeper Jake Eastwood would not have instilled confidence in his team mates as he fumbled the ball to give away a corner and then spilt the ball for a second time in the first ten minutes, but he would grow into the game as it progressed and play an important part in his team’s progression.

Mickleover suddenly sparked into life, and after Tony Breeden pushed a shot from the right behind for a corner, they shocked Leamington by taking the lead on 20 minutes, Zeph Thomas threading a shot across a congested penalty area past the unsighted Breeden into the net after being set up by the livewire Jake Bennett.

Eastwood almost allowed a downward header from Courtney Baker-Richardson to spill from his grasp before he was involved in a controversial moment as Brakes saw a goal ruled out, Ryan Rowe going in to challenge as the ball was steered towards goal, but while both he and the goalkeeper appeared to miss it as it rolled into the net the striker was penalised for either being offside or for obstruction.

Edwards’ shot from Baker-Richardson’s chest pass did not have enough behind it to trouble Eastwood, while Baker-Richardson himself came close when he crashed a first time volley just past the upright.

Rob Thompson-Brown saw a shot well blocked by Jack Broadhead before Baker-Richardson’s low shot across goal was pushed away well by the keeper. The last shot of the first half was a free kick from Mickleover’s Ben Turner which landed safely in the arms of Breeden.

Thomas saw an early second half shot saved by Breeden before Leamington saw another goal chalked out for offside, Edwards heading a free kick back into the six yard box for Rowe, who attempted to steer it in the far post where it was poked in by Ahmed Obeng.

Richard Taundry directed a free kick straight at Eastwood, while at the other end Brodie Litchfield headed just over the bar from a corner.

Eastwood produced a stunning save from Thompson-Brown’s free kick after Obeng was impeded by Broadhead, the ball taking a deflection. Despite moving in one direction the keeper was able to thrust out a strong arm to divert the ball away.

Thompson-Brown then blocked an attempted clearance by Bennett, nudging the ball on for Obeng, who in turn found Rowe on the left. His low ball across the box was hammered against the far post by Baker-Richardson.

Broadhead smuggled a dangerous cross from Obeng at the far post for a corner as Leamington’s search for a goal started to become more urgent. Eastwood made another good save from Baker-Richardson’s downward header from a corner, while a jinking run into the box from Taundry was ended when Ben Turner blocked his shot.

One final chance for Brakes came when Edwards’ header from a free kick was directed straight at Eastwood, but their unbeaten streak at home came to an end, leaving Paul Holleran to reflect on a rare disappointing afternoon.

‘We didn’t really come close to the levels we needed to all afternoon really, only in fits and starts,’ said the Leamington boss. We’ve allowed them to score what was from our perspective a poor goal, it was something we should have dealt with, but we’ve gone on to have enough chances but our quality in and around the box hasn’t been been where it has needed to be for the last couple of games. As I’ve said to the players, both of the big competitions you enter into, we fell at the first hurdle and performances haven’t been at the levels they need to be. I certainly wasn’t too happy with our application in certain periods as well. It’s a bad day for us. Good luck to Mickleover, I hope that they get a good draw in the next round.’

Attendance: 352

Leamington: Tony Breeden ©, Richard Taundry, Connor Gudger, Darren Pond, Jamie Hood, James Mace (17 Tom James, 86), Courtney Baker-Richardson, Jack Edwards, Ryan Rowe (14 Nathan Olukanmi, 71), Rob Thompson-Brown (15 Callum Gittings, 73), Ahmed Obeng.

Subs not used: 12 Joe Magunda, 16 Ben George.

Mickleover Sports: Jake Eastwood, Jake Bennett, Ben Turner, John McGrath, Tom Burgin, Jack Broadhead, Andy Dales, Lewis Belgrave ©, Zeph Thomas (14 Adam Baskerville 72), Brodie Litchfield, Danny Schofield.

Subs not used: 12 Albert Lansdowne, 15 William Norcross, 16 Elliot Ptak, 17 Clinton Morrison.

Referee: Mr Stephen Oakey

Assistant Referees: Mr Matthew Perry & Mr Gavin Jolley

Brakes Man of the Match: Courtney Baker-Richardson.

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