CALLUM GITTINGS second-half goal sent Leamington FC into the Birmingham Senior Cup after the Brakes secured a 1-0 win against League One Burton Albion.
Gittings headed in a 49th minute winner at the Your Co-Op Community Stadium to settle a close affair as the Brakes aim to retain the trophy they won in 2019 with the last two editions cancelled in light of the Covid-19 pandemic.
And a date and venue for the final are yet to be announced with the other semi-final between Alvechurch and Stourbridge set to take place this weekend.
The Brakes named a strong starting lineup, making five changes from their last league outing, whilst their League One opponents played a mixture of first-team players in need of minutes and academy players.
And it was Leamington who had the first opportunity of the game when Dan Turner found room 20-yards from goal before shooting a few yards wide of the right-hand post.
Paul Holleran’s side continued to search for the opener when Kelsey Mooney’s shot on the turn was held by Burton goalkeeper Matej Kovar.
However, the Brewers had a glorious chance to take the lead just past the quarter hour mark when former Stoke City and Preston North End striker Louis Moult was denied when one-on-one with Jake Weaver.
And Moult spurned another golden opening moments later when he volleyed over from inside the box when left unmarked from Charlie Williams’ cross from the left.
Burton were then awarded a free-kick around 25-yards from goal which was sent a couple of yards over the crossbar by Harry Chapman.
And the League One side came close again when Tom Hewlett shot wide from Moult’s pass with the goal at his mercy after a mix-up in the Leamington defence.
The Brewers remained the dominant force and hit the post shortly before half-time when Hewlett met Charlie Lakin’s cross before Moult fired the rebound wide.
And the Brakes finally forced Kovar in the Albion goal into a meaningful save when Mooney worked his way into the box before firing a tame effort straight at the Burton keeper.
Leamington came forward again soon after when Mooney headed over from Joe Parker’s left-wing cross as the teams headed into the break all square.
And the Brakes picked up where they left off in the second half when Gittings stooped low to head in at the back post from a few yards out from a corner on the right.
Buoyed by the goal, Leamington almost doubled their lead when Parker waltzed his way through the Burton midfield before teeing up Mooney who curled an effort wide of the post after cutting in from the left.
And Mooney was in-behind the Burton defence soon after only to blaze wildly over the crossbar with Turner in support before missing his kick from six-yards out later in the half.
The Brakes were wasteful in front of goal again when Mooney was slipped in down the right-hand side of the box by Gittings only for Mooney to shoot inches wide of the left post with Kovar beaten.
However, despite a dominant second half display from the home side, Leamington stopper Weaver was forced into a save low down to his right to keep out Lakin’s driven effort from distance.
And Burton ramped up the pressure as the half wore on with Williams firing a snapshot wide from inside the penalty area.
At the other end, Mooney was twice denied by Kovar the first of which saw the striker denied from 10-yards out when one-on-on with the on loan Manchester United stopper.
A late drive by Chapman was comfortably held by Weaver as the Brakes withstood everything Burton had to throw at them to book their place in the final.
Leamington return to league action against Hereford on Saturday, March 12 with kick-off at 3pm at the Your Co-Op Community Stadium.