FOOTBALL - Leamington advance to Birmingham Senior Cup semi-finals with Tamworth win - The Leamington Observer

FOOTBALL - Leamington advance to Birmingham Senior Cup semi-finals with Tamworth win

LEAMINGTON FC reached the semi-finals of the Birmingham Senior Cup after securing a 3-1 win at home to Tamworth.


Sam Wilding, on loan from Sunderland, opened the scoring for Leamington on 16 minutes with a superb strike.


However, Tamworth drew level in the 39th minute through Kai Lissimore with their first shot of the match.


Parity was restored for all of three minutes when Steph Morley reclaimed the lead for the home side shortly before half-time.


And Dan Turner came off the bench to clinch the win from the penalty spot in injury-time to book Leamington’s place in the last four.


The game also saw James Mace become the club’s record appearance holder in the modern era as he played in his 407th game in Leamington colours surpassing Josh Blake.


Victory for Leamington was their first in 10 matches and they started on the front foot when Kieran Cook saw his effort pushed over the crossbar by Tamworth goalkeeper Keelan Fellows.


Dylan Barkers then had his looping header cleared off the line before Wilding was denied by Fellows to keep the game scoreless.


And the Brakes soon had the opening goal when Wilding found the top left corner with a thunderous first time effort from the edge of the penalty area to score his first goal for the club.


Tamworth stopper Fellows made another couple of fine saves before Lissimore planted a low drive beyond Brakes goalkeeper Jake Weaver to draw Tamworth level.


However, Leamington provided a quick response when Morley’s free-kick deceived Fellows to send the home side into the break with a deserved lead.


Tamworth looked a changed side after the interval and forced Weaver into his first real save of the match when the Brakes keeper pushed Ryan Beswick’s half-volley behind for a corner.


And the away side spurned a glorious chance to draw level when a ball was only half cleared to a Tamworth player only to shoot well wide.


Leamington wrapped up the win in injury-time when captain Jack Edwards won a penalty after drawing a handball from a Tamworth defender inside the box as substitute Turner stepped up and converted the resulting penalty.


Brakes Manager Paul Holleran said: “It was a good open game – sort of what you’d hope for really.


“It was played in a good spirit; we were better in the first half, they were better in the second half. Both sides have managed to get minutes into players, we’ve managed to get some players back on the pitch.


“It was great to see Jack [Edwards] have 15 minutes at the end. It was a really good, worthwhile, exercise and with the run we’ve been on recently it’s good to get the win and get a bit of confidence.


“It got difficult in the second half with the conditions; the pitch was difficult for both teams, but it’s something we can put on the back burner now, concentrate on the league and have a semi final to look forward to in March.


“It was a good night’s work for us. Sam Wilding’s goal was a great strike. To be fair the first twenty minutes we really came out of the blocks quickly, and a combination of poor finishing and good goalkeeping probably kept it at 1-0, though they recovered well and were good in the second half, Tamworth.”


On record appearance holder James Mace, Holleran said: “Mace is just Mace really. He just comes in and does what he’s meant to do. No nonsense, he’s very competitive; does what you want a defender to do on the half way line.


“I’m delighted for James. There’s a few more games in him! I think at this level getting some good disciplined structured people around you with a bit of loyalty – they get you a long way, and I think the fans appreciate it too.”


Leamington are next in action away at league leaders Gateshead on Saturday, January 22 with kick-off at 3pm at Gateshead International Stadium.

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