Birmingham Senior Cup Quarter Final
Phillips 66 Community Stadium
Tuesday 31st January 2017
Jamie Hood marked his return from injury with a goal as Leamington turned this Birmingham Senior Cup tie on its head in the last ten minutes to reach the Semi Finals.
The influential central defender had been badly missed during his eight game spell on the sidelines, and his delight was clear for all to see as he thumped a header past former Brakes keeper Niall Cooper from Rob Thompson-Brown’s right wing corner to level the scores after Stratford had led through Simeon Tulloch’s 25th minute strike. Courtney Baker-Richardson powered home the winner almost a minute later as Paul Holleran’s side bounced back from their six goal home humiliation against Slough Town on Saturday.
The Leamington boss was unable to utilise his squad as much as he would probably have liked, with Tom James unfortunately injuring himself in the warm up, while former Town striker Richard Gregory and Jordan Goddard were both cup tied.
Stratford themselves were hamstrung in the attacking positions, with three strikers all cup tied, but it was Tulloch who bulldozed them in front after a low key opening to the game, running onto a pass from Liam Francis, outmuscling James Mace and stabbing in a shot that had enough power on it to beat Tony Breeden despite the Leamington skipper getting a hand to the ball.
Although still not at their best, Brakes posed far more of a threat than they had done over 90 minutes on Saturday, Courtney Baker-Richardson forcing Cooper into a somewhat unorthodox save as he deflected the ball over. The striker attempted an overhead kick from the resulting corner but was off target, before Dan Summerfield laced a long range drive just over the bar for the visitors.
Baker-Richardson got in down the right to fire a powerful effort into the side netting early in the second half, while Stratford came close to a second when Will Grocutt headed against the bar as the ball was played back into the penalty area following Guy Clark’s blocked shot.
Ahmed Obeng was introduced for the final half hour or so and he immediately made an impact with his direct running pushing the Town defence back. He fired in a shot which was deflected towards the far corner, Cooper scrambling across just in time to claim the ball ahead of Thompson-Brown.
There was a brief shout for a penalty when Obeng looked to have been fouled in the box, but Leamington were asking more questions of their visitors now, and Cooper pulled off a stunning save to keep out a piledriver from Callum Gittings, who couldn’t have come much closer to a first goal for the club. Richard Taundry curled a free kick straight at the Stratford keeper, who then saved well again from a close range shot from James Mace, but he was powerless to stop Hood’s header from the corner on 81 minutes.
60 seconds later the turnaround was complete, Baker-Richardson rising to power a downward header through Cooper and into the net from another Thompson-Brown corner kick. The former Stratford midfielder could have added further gloss to the scoreline when striking a free kick on target, but Cooper was in the way once more to punch clear. However, Leamington had done just enough to reach the last four in the Senior Cup for the first time since 2012, which will provide a welcome distraction from what is sure to be a very tough last three months of the league campaign.
Leamington: Tony Breeden ©, Ben George, Richard Taundry, Darren Pond (14 Joe Magunda, 69), Jamie Hood, James Mace, Courtney Baker-Richardson, Callum Gittings, Ryan Rowe (12 Ahmed Obeng, 57), Jack Edwards, Robbie Thompson-Brown.
Subs not used: 15 Ryan Quinn, 16 Tom James, 17 Connor Gudger.
Stratford Town: Niall Cooper, Dan Summerfield, Guy Clark, James Fry ©, Liam Francis, Jean Kalenda, Simeon Tulloch, Barry Fitzharris, Charlie Faulkner (12 Charlie Evans, 84), Will Grocott, Ben Stephens (16 Callum Ingram, 86).
Subs not used: 14 Dylan Parker, 15 Ben Ellicott
Referee: Mr Scott Postin
Assistant Referees: Mr Thomas Kidd & Mr Harley McKittrick
Brakes Man of the Match: Jamie Hood.