Birmingham Senior Cup Final
Molineux Stadium, Wolverhampton
Wednesday 10th May 2017
Brakes ended a long season with another trophy as they won the Birmingham Senior Cup for the first time since 1972 emerging victorious from a penalty shoot out over a young Wolverhampton Wanderers side at the Championship clubs’ Molineux stadium.
Paul Holleran was presented with an award prior to kick off to mark his 400th game in charge of the club, a nice touch to mark a fine achievement in an age when some managers are rarely given a season to make their mark.
The Brakes boss, who was without the cup tied Richard Gregory and Jordan Goddard, brought Joe Magunda and Stefan Moore into the starting line up, while the dual registered Richard Batchelor was named on the substitutes bench along with Ryan Quinn, recently returned from a spell at our Warwickshire neighbours Rugby Town.
The opening exchanges bought little action of any note but Ahmed Obeng lit the blue touch paper on 15 minutes when he tricked his way into the Wolves penalty area and was brought down as he turned sharply. Rob Thompson-Brown stepped up and calmly slammed the spot kick past keeper Jack Ruddy to delight the sizeable Leamington contingent
The young homesters created their first opening when Regan Upton headed Nicu Carnat’s left wing corner just past the post. Ryan Rainey then fired a well struck free kick just over the bar from a central position some 20 yards out.
Obeng was presented with a great opportunity to add a second for Leamington when Moore intelligently played him into the box but he slipped when confronted with three Wolves defenders, and could only fire his shot wide. Moore then screwed well wide from a good position on the edge of the ‘D’. Thompson-Brown was next to try his luck, crashing a powerful drive into the bank of empty seats behind the goal.
Courtney Baker-Richardson was inches from a spectacular second as he watched a swinging cross from the left by Thompson-Brown onto his right boot, executing a neat first time volley that arrowed just past the upright.
Rainey fired another free kick just off target as the first half moved into injury time, but while the hosts didn’t show a great deal of attacking intent in the first half they emerged from the dressing room full of aggression, substitute Andrew Sealy’s shot blocked by Connor Gudger after Breeden had parried a shot from Carnat.
The ball was hacked away from the Wolves goal line as a free kick was headed down inside the six yard box, and Jack Edwards was desperately unlucky not to find the back of the net with a powerful header that cannoned back off the post as the game swung from end to end, with far more entertaining fare than the opening 45 minutes.
Richard Taundry drove forward and struck a shot that was deflected into the arms of Ruddy, whose failure to collect the ball in the next Leamington attack almost let in Obeng.
Rainey forced an instinctive save from Breeden when he drove into the box on the left, evading the attentions of Taundry to stab in a powerful cross which the Brakes skipper diverted away with his outstretched leg.
A neatly rehearsed free kick routine on the right saw Thompson-Brown play the ball back to Taundry just outside the penalty area on the right, the ball being swept across to the far post where both Jack Edwards and Batchelor narrowly failed to connect.
The home side continued to look dangerous however, and were deservedly level on 68 minutes when Sealy slammed a left wing cut back under the diving Breeden into the net.
Perhaps understandably the action slowed a little as the game moved towards full time, with Brakes having to work hard off the ball. Striker Bradley Reid failed to work Breeden with a weak effort having seemingly worked the space for a shot inside the box.
Breeden confidently claimed a dangerous corner kick as the game entered its conclusion, but penalties were required to decide the outcome. Breeden was first to step up, and smashed his kick to Ruddy’s right. Wolves substitute Jordan Allen was next, his powerful low strike beating Breeden to his left. Thompson-Brown followed and was successful once again, sending Ruddy the wrong way with a low poke.
Rainey was next to step up for Wolves, Breeden getting a hand to his kick but was unable to keep it out. Darren Pond successfully converted Leamington’s next kick, while Reid wrongfooted Breeden for Wolves’ third. Taundry confidently despatched Brakes’ fourth, while Breeden got a hand to Carnat’s powerful effort but could only divert it in off the bar. Jack Edwards then battered home Leamington's fifth kick, leaving all the pressure on the final taker for the home side.
Sealy, one of Wolves most impressive performers in the second half, stepped up to take Wanderers’ final kick but Breeden won the cup for Leamington with a stunning save to his right to the utter delight of the Brakes support.
And so another successful season in the history of Leamington Football Club draws to a close. This team has provided some wonderful memories for us in 2016/17, along with banishing any lingering pain from the previous campaign. Paul Holleran, his staff and his squad have done us proud in earning the club another crack at Step 2 football in the National League, and have surely silenced any doubters. They deserve all the plaudits that will come their way. Meanwhile, we can all sit back and enjoy the summer, while preparing for the huge challenges that lie ahead.
Wolves: Jack Ruddy, Hakeem Odoffin (15 Andrew Sealy, 46), Ben O’Hanlon, Conor Levingston (14 Dan McKenna, 53), Regan Upton, Ryan Leek, Nicu Carnat, Ryan Rainey, Bradley Reid, Joe Delacoe (16 Jordan Allan 85), Anthony Breslin.
Subs not used: 12 Cameron John, 13 Harry Beasley.
Leamington: Tony Breeden ©, Richard Taundry, Connor Gudger, Joe Magunda (16 Darren Pond, 58), Jamie Hood, James Mace, Courtney Baker-Richardson (15 Kurtis Revan, 81), Jack Edwards, Stefan Moore (12 Richard Batchelor, 62), Ahmed Obeng, Rob Thompson-Brown.
Subs not used: 14 Tom James, 17 Ryan Quinn.
Referee: Mr Simon Barrow
Assistant Referees: Mr Ryan Haynes & Mr Thomas Bowker
Fourth Official: Mr Phillip Hardisty
Brakes Man of the Match: Tony Breeden.