BRAKES produced one of their best performances of the season so far as they stormed back from a goal down to beat Conference North Hednesford 4-2 and earn a place in the first round of the FA Trophy, writes Paul Edwards.
Bernard McNally’s side started brightly and there was a let off for Brakes when Paul Ennis’ free kick threaded through a crowded penalty area to strike the post and Ahmed Obeng fired the loose ball towards goal but was denied by a fine block from Jamie Tank.
The visitors went ahead in the 14th minute when a long throw led to a low cross being driven into the box where it was slotted home by Andy Todd despite Tony Breeden’s best efforts.
To their credit Leamington did not let their heads drop and were straight back on the offensive in true cup tie style.
Ben Mackey had a shot well blocked by Tyrone Williams before they pulled level on 22 minutes when Breeden’s free kick was helped across to Mackey who sent a looping header towards goal and Rob Ogleby put the ball over the line.
The pressure on the visitors’ goal continued with Moore dragging a well struck shot into the side netting, while Edwards slid a pass through to put Ogleby clear down the right, but he gave Crane the chance to narrow the angles and the Pitmen keeper saved.
Tank saw a header diverted behind by Matt Regan, while Moore fired in a dangerous cross which Edwards did superbly to connect with but could only head wide on the stretch.
The chances continued to come with Mackey seeing a powerful shot blocked and Edwards produced a smart piece of skill to beat his man before crossing for Mackey who set up Ogleby again but this time his effort went inches over the bar.
At the other end Hednesford were inches from going into half-time ahead however when Ennis curled a free kick a whisker over the bar with the final kick of the first 45 minutes.
Leamington made a strong start to the second half with Moore and Mackey both having shots blocked.
The visitors found themselves behind on 58 minutes after Richard Taundry latched onto a short defensive clearance just outside the box before hitting a low, measured volley back past Crane into the bottom corner of the net.
There was a real sense around the ground that Brakes could cause an upset now, and that only intensified with 20 minutes to play when Ben Mackey capitalised on Crane spilling the ball from a free kick to stab home a third for Holleran’s side.
The euphoria was tempered slightly within a minute or so however as Hednesford skipper Ben Bailey crashed in a powerful header off the underside of the bar from a corner to bring his side back to within a goal of parity.
But back came Leamington with Crane getting down to divert Ogleby’s low drive into the near post behind for a corner.
And within four minutes of his goal Bailey turned from hero to villain for his side as he needlessly shoved Mackey in the back just inside the box and the Leamington man stepped up to fire the ball past Crane.
The visitors tried to drag themselves back into the tie again and almost did so when Hood cleared Obeng’s shot off the line and Breeden had to be alert to save a free kick from the same player.
Brakes have been drawn away against Vanarama National League Altrincham FC on December 12.