A REPLAY was probably the last thing both clubs wanted after a busy last month of fixtures, but that is what Leamington and Rushall Olympic got after cancelling each other out in the second round of qualifying for the FA Trophy on miserable Saturday afternoon at the Phillips 66 Community Stadium, reports Paul Edwards.
There were very few serious chances of note for either side and the second half in particular proved to be very disappointing fare.
You sensed that one moment of quality could win the tie for either side but the ball seemed to spend more time out of play due to misplaced passes, with neither side able to build up any kind of rhythm.
Rushall opened brightly with Alex Reid cutting in from the right but he was stopped in his tracks by a strong block from Joe Magunda as he attempted to shoot, while James Mace was in the right place to prevent Danny Wilkinson from getting a header on goal at the far post.
Lee Chilton registered the first effort on target when a smart turn saw him crash a shot off the underside of the bar from the edge of the box following a strong run by Jack Edwards to set up the attack.
The visitors were then a whisker away from a goal of their own when Reid was inches from connecting with Jack Duggan’s header back across goal, the ball dropping just past the post.
The game was disrupted throughout with soft free kicks awarded to both sides, one of which saw Ross Oulton cautioned.
Kris Taylor stung the palms of Brakes skipper Tony Breeden when his blocked free kick ran loose to him outside the box, thrashing a powerful drive towards goal that was beaten away.
Oulton’s run up the right then saw him centre for Jack Edwards to graze the outside of the post with a deft header.
Luke Benbow curled a low drive just past the post early in the second half, and Reid came close when he glanced Sam Humphreys’ left wing cross just past the upright.
Ben Mackey was denied what looked a blatant penalty award when he was clearly pulled back by the shoulder as he prepared to control a ball into the box, while the visitors were convinced they had scored after striking the bar with a header from the corner, the ensuing scramble on the line ending with Breeden claiming the ball.
Brakes were reduced to ten men in the closing stages when Oulton was shown a second yellow card after being felled inside the box. It was plainly given for what the Referee believed was simulation in an attempt to win a penalty, but the award of both cards was harsh, which enraged the home support.
Despite their man advantage for the remaining minutes the visitors never threatened Breeden’s goal, looking content to take the tie back to Dales Lane on Tuesday. Chilton curled Leamington’s last chance over the bar from a free kick but by that time most of the crowd of 296 had began to disperse, disappointed with what they had witnessed.
Paul Holleran’s squad was stretched to the limit again in fairness, the manager forced to play some of his starting XI out of their usual positions against Rushall. The team missed the craft and guile of Richard Taundry, even from the defensive position he has been forced to play in over the last few games, and the manager will hope to have him available for the replay on Tuesday evening.
*BRAKES have been handed a home tie against Vanarama National League North side Hednesford Town should they progress against Rushall in the FA Trophy.
Tuesday’s tricky replay at Rushall was postponed because of the high winds that cause havoc across the area.
If Brakes are successful, the third qualifying round will take place on Saturday November 28 and will replace the league fixtures against Chesham, which would have been postponed regardless as the Generals themselves are still in the competition.