Emirates FA Cup Second Qualifying Round
Saturday 16th September 2017
Brakes snatched FA Cup victory right at the death against dogged Midland League opponents Westfields just as a replay began to look inevitable at Allpay Park.
Long serving manager Sean Edwards led his team to the 1st Round proper last season before they were knocked out in a replay by Leamington’s National League North rivals Curzon Ashton, gaining national recognition for some memorable giant killings along the way, but although Brakes were not always at their best in this contest they certainly showed far more effort and endeavour than they had done in the desperate capitulation at Highgate United last year, and having finally found their cutting edge when it mattered they ensured that their hosts would not be progressing any further in this years competition as they picked up a first win since beating Wroxham back in 2014.
The healthy travelling contingent in a crowd of 365 were heartened by the way their team opened proceedings, having plenty of possession without really doing anything with it, but it was evident that they were not about to make things easy for their hosts. However, it was Westfields who gained the first sight of goal around the fifteen minute mark when Ricahrd Greaves fired a tame effort into the arms of Tony Breeden.
Things became slightly more serious in their next attack however, Tony Breeden bundling the striker over inside the box for a clear penalty. The Brakes skipper redeemed himself immediately, diving low to his left to hold a poorly struck spot kick from Craig Jones.
Callum Gittings cracked a low drive past the upright as Leamington looked to make the most of their good fortune, while James Mace hit the top of the bar with his attempted cross from the right after Kieran Dunbar had played him clear with a fine pass.
Westfields began to put their higher ranked opponents under pressure as they quickly got over the penalty miss but there were no chances to be had, with Breeden enjoying a rare quiet afternoon after his penalty save.
Stefan Moore sent a shot into the side netting on the turn following a half cleared corner, and was the victim of one of a number of bewildering decisions from the officials throughout when he clearly won the ball in a one on one with Westfields keeper Kieron Blackburn just before half time, only to be penalised for a foul.
Joe Clarke drove wide from distance early in the second half before Paul Holleran made the changes that would ultimately win the tie for his side, introducing Ahmed Obeng and Colby Bishop to provide more thrust going forward. Obeng almost made an immediate impact, driving in a shot from the edge of the box that was deflected behind for a corner, from which Jamie Hood thumped in a header that deflected off a Westfields defender onto the crossbar.
The closest the home side came to a sight of goal in the second half came when substitute Adeki Kingsford almost broke clear, but his shot was deflected through to Breeden.
Connor Gudger and the recalled Rob Thompson-Brown were linking up well on the left, and having driven a shot well over after an exchange of passes earlier on, Gudger delivered an inviting ball right across the face of goal that went to waste.
Defender Kane Kahaki then calmly side footed a dangerous ball to the far post from Clarke inches wide of his own goal, Hood heading wide from the resulting corner.
Dunbar rose to head Mace’s right wing cross well over the bar while Obeng drove a shot well over from the same side when he had better options in the box. Thompson-Brown then sent a well struck half volley over the bar from a half cleared free kick.
Leamington certainly looked the more likely to score in the closing stages, and just when time looked to be ticking away from them the breakthrough arrived, Bishop rising highest to power a header into the roof of the net as Dunbar sent a brilliant ball back into the six yard box after his initial free kick from the left wing had been blocked.
The striker then helped to make the game safe deep into injury time as he was fouled by Matt Sysum, the Westfields centre back trudging slowly off the pitch having received a red card. Thompson-Brown stepped up to the penalty spot, Blackburn unable to keep the ball out and the travelling support were able to raucously celebrate a win in the famous old competition.
‘The game wasn’t really any different to what we expected,’ said Brakes boss Holleran afterwards. ‘We were hoping that we could press the game hard early on and maybe force errors, but to be fair they dealt with it well and you could see why they have had so many good results there in cup competitions.’
‘We were what you have to be when playing away from home. We were nice and solid without being at our best, we were very functional, disciplined apart from the one incicent, and we limited them to one shot on target in the whole game.
‘I was hoping that in the second half as the game opened up, our subs would make a difference, and that’s what happened, and in the end I don’t think anyone can deny that we deserved to win the game. It was a good cup game, Westfields were great hosts and very gracious in defeat. I am just happy that our supporters have been able to have a good FA Cup day out, and we’re delighted to be in draw for the next round. We put in a very workmanlike and solid performance, and basically today we were all the things that we weren’t at Highgate last year.’
Brakes can now look forward to another FA Cup draw for the first time in a while, before welcoming in form Bradford Park Avenue to the Phillips 66 Community Stadium next Saturday.
Westfields: Kieron Blackburn, Kane Kahaki, Sam Plane, Phil Glover, Matt Sysum, Matt Reeve, Craig Jones, Aidan Thomas (12 Lewis Platt, 84), Richard Greaves ( 15 Adeji Kingsford, 62), Ben Miller (14 Dan Folan, 70), Alex Hainault.
Subs not used: 16 Carlos Morera, 17 Hayden Turner, GK John Hopkins.
Leamington: Tony Breeden ©, James Mace, Connor Gudger, Joe Clarke, Junior English, Jamie Hood, Kieran Dunbar, Callum Gittings (16 Joe Magunda, 86), Stefan Moore (12 Colby Bishop, 68), Jack Edwards (15 Ahmed Obeng, 66), Rob Thompson-Brown.
Subs not used: 14 Charley Edge, 17 Kurtis Revan, 18 Richard Taundry, 19 Liam Canavan.
Referee: Mr Will Finnie
Assistant Referees: Mr Robert Claussen & Mr Mr Shaun Barry
Brakes Man of the Match: Colby Bishop.