LEAMINGTON’S FA Cup dreams were shattered after going down 2-0 at Kettering Town in Tuesday night’s replay.
The Brakes and the Poppies had played out an incident-packed 3-3 draw on Saturday but Paul Holleran’s higher-ranked side failed to seize the opportunity to seal a place in the final qualifying round for only the second time in their history.
Boss Holleran had praised his side’s fighting spirit on Saturday after they had been reduced to 10 men but on Tuesday Kettering recorded a first win in 11 meetings with Leamington to set up a tie with Buxton.
With Simeon Maye having been injured on Saturday, Holleran was forced to make changes to his starting 11 for the first time in five games, with Kaiman Anderson and Callum Gittings both starting their first game of the season,
Brakes set about their task confidently in the opening 15 minutes with Kelsey Mooney going close but Kettering struck on 34 minutes.
Callum Powell’s pace took him clear of Kyle Morrison down the middle as the ball was played over the top, and with Jake Weaver opting to stay on his line he was beaten by the quality of the shot.
The second half began in end to end fashion, but Kettering substitute Isaac Stones bundled home from close range to add a second five minutes from time.
On Saturday, Leamington twice led but then needed a late Jack Turner penalty to earn a replay.
The hosts struck with their first real chance. After skipper Jack Edwards was fouled 20 yards from goal, Steph Morley stepped up to curl a delightful free kick beyond the outstretched hand of the diving Rhys Davies into the corner.
Claudio Ofosu reacted quickest to crash a loose ball into the net to level things up on 24 minutes but Leamington were back in front just past the half-hour after Dan Turner converted at the far post to finish off a marauding run from Dan Meredith.
Holleran’s side were then reduced to 10 men seven minutes to go before half-time when Edwards was sent off.
Poppies half-time substitute Kyle Perry then took centre stage with two quickfire goals to put them ahead. Having turned from a corner inside the box to fire low and in off both posts for 2-2 ,the striker then powered home a close range header at the far post from Ofosu’s left wing cross on 66 minutes.
But then 10-men Brakes rallied again and when a foul on substitute Anderson led to a penalty and Turner stepped up to rifle past keeper Rhys Davies on the 73 minutes.
Leamington return to Vanarama National League North action on Saturday when they head to Yorkshire side Guiseley.