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KIDSGROVE ATHLETIC 0 v LEAMINGTON 1
FA Cup First Qualifying round
Sat 10 Sep 05
By David Hucker

Morgan Super Strike Seals Landmark Cup Victory

The inevitable traffic tailback on the M6 delayed the team coach and supporters travelling by car to the Potteries. As a result, the kick-off was put back half an hour, during which time the rain became even harder making this a stamina-sapping afternoon for both sides.

Kidsgrove play in a compact stadium approached through a housing estate and car parking was at a premium. By one means or another, the crowd of 429 managed to get settled in for what turned out to be an absorbing FA Cup tie that proved to be Brakes' finest moment since starting out again five years ago. This defeat of an in-form team from Division One of the Unibond League (Level 4) showed just how far the club has come in such a short period of time and it will take a while for the players to appreciate the enormity of what they have achieved. To add to the satisfaction, the starting line-up was made up entirely of last season's squad and, for many, this was a career-best performance.

Kidsgrove came into the tie on the back of a 5-2 replay win in the previous round over Stourbridge and two impressive league victories including a 6-0 drubbing of Colwyn Bay last time out. Whether this induced complacency in the team is a matter of conjecture, but they certainly didn't put on the kind of show that their status had suggested beforehand. What is certain is that they came up against a Brakes side willing to run and give everything, typified by the efforts of Ryan Howell who was virtually at a standstill at the end. Tom Sidwell had his best game for some time in the defence and, as usual, Jon Adams shone like a beacon in the Staffordshire gloom with intelligent running and passing.

Early on, Brakes were over-running the ball down the slope on the increasingly slippery surface. Kidsgrove could have snatched the lead in the first five minutes, but Darran Tank made a good tackle to rob Matt Rhead. The turning point of the match came in the 8th minute when a mistake by Richard Eyre gave the ball to Brakes' skipper Leon Morgan who unleashed a fierce shot from outside the penalty area into the top left-hand corner (0-1).

Brakes lived a little dangerously after that as Kidsgrove looked for an equaliser and Ashley Miller just failed to connect with a low cross from the right. The returning Andy Gregory then sent a header from a Ryan Parisi free-kick over the bar and, with Stuart Herlihy back to his best in midfield and Josh Blake creating chances down the left touchline, a second looked on the cards.

Ryan Howell was denied a scoring chance on 19 minutes when referee Steve Pardoe adjudged that he controlled a pass from Gregory with his arm and, at the other end, Glynn Hancock just failed with a low shot that was deflected for a corner. Richard Morris then made a good save under pressure from two attackers, but was carried off on a stretcher in the 41st minute with a large swelling beneath his left knee following a collision with Rhead.

On the stroke of half-time, Jon Adams moved into a threatening position, only to be pulled down from behind by Darren Twigg who was booked.

Both sides had chances to score in the second half as the worsening conditions contributed to defensive errors. In the 49th minute, Stuart Herlihy just failed to connect with a cross from the right by Jon Adams, but this proved to be Herlihy's last contribution as he and Adam Vickers were both sent off as a result of incident off the ball. In an increasingly busy afternoon for the referee, Glynn Hancock was booked in the 61st minute for a fierce tackle on Morgan that resulted in the Brakes' midfielder going off the field for treatment.

Josh Blake's good run down the left on 70 minutes was stopped when he was felled on the edge of the penalty area by Anthony Kielthy and, in an action-packed last few minutes, Gregory made a saving tackle to keep the lead intact. With Kidsgrove throwing everything at Brakes in search of an equaliser (including 'keeper Stuart Heeps coming up for two corners), Paul Shepherd made a brilliant fingertip save to deny Simon Robinson and clinch a well deserved victory.

Manager Jason Cadden put the win on a par with the previous round triumph at Sutton Town adding "That was a great performance and everyone is delighted. The team's workrate was fantastic and we defended well in the last ten minutes when Kidsgrove put us under real pressure."

Kidsgrove Athletic: Stuart Heeps; Adam Vickers; Andy Bostock (Ben Matthews 72); Andy Thomas; Wayne Johnson [Capt]; Glynn Hancock (Anthony Kielthy 65); Richard Eyre; Julian Ward; Matt Rhead; Darren Twigg; Ashley Miller (Simon Robinson 65)
Subs not used: Mark Fitton; Chris Holmes

Leamington: Richard Morris (Paul Shepherd 41); Jon Adams; Darran Tank; Tom Sidwell; Ryan Parisi; Andy Gregory; Stuart Herlihy; Leon Morgan [Capt]; Richard Adams (Paul Nicholls 88); Ryan Howell; Josh Blake
Subs Not Used: Paul Eden; Russell Dodd; Ben Usher

Attendance 429

Players' (and Other) News: Andy Stidder missed through a work-related event; Alex Rodman on family business in Wales, back soon; Steve Smith, minor op. and Kristian Kelsall has been resting a bad toe and will probably be back in the squad for Tuesday. Kidsgrove presented the club with a Kidsgrove shirt after the game as a memento, thanks folks. FA prize money for this win is 2,250, next round, Qualifying 2, is 3,750 (draw midday Monday 12th and on folfc ASAP afterwards. There are four qualifying rounds in total, three more, before the 1st Round Proper.

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By Paul Vanes

I was there along with the rest of the Brakes official party plus 250 fans who roared on their heroes to the most significant victory in the history of Leamington Football Club since coming out of hibernation. An overtly physical Athletic side well lead by vastly experienced player/joint manager Darren Twigg who used every trick in the book either by fair means or foul to intimidate Andy Gregory and the Brakes lad just grew in stature as the game progressed. Kidsgrove played up the slope and thought they were going to add to their 15 goal haul in the last three games but came up against Leamington at their very best. A poor header fell to Leon Morgan twenty yards out and he killed the ball with his right foot then smacked a left footer past Stuart Heeps who didn't have the time to lift a finger 1-0 to the Brakes. Leamington's hordes got noisier as the game wore on and when Richard Morris was injured as the boisterous Matthew Rhead flung himself at the ball along the wet surface and he slid into the keeper's left knee with the ball safely in Morris arms until the collision. Kidsgrove fans rubbed their hands with glee as Paul Shepherd followed the stretcher into the dressing room thinking he was an outfield player going in goal but that didn't last long.

The Leamington players and fans found out what Davy Crockett and the rest were up against at the Alamo when Athletic tried to camp in our half from the start of the second half with the home side pouring on the pressure. In a rare attack on the left, something happened which I did not see but the assistant referee did as he was 40 yards nearer, out came the red card for Stuart Herlihy who did raise his hands but nowhere near his opponent, Kidsgrove cheers turned to groans as the referee then issued the same card to Adam Vickers who caused the fracas. A double substitution by the home side as corner after corner was gained, I gave up counting after 15 in the second half alone, bodies got in the way, chests, heads, feet even a backside or two then if they did get through, Paul Shepherd was a man mountain. The third sub by Athletic - Simon Robinson - put in the best shot of the game arcing like a bullet just under the angle of bar and post yet somehow, Shepherd flew through the air extending his full frame to the maximum to tip the ball over leaving the former Port Vale player banging his knees in pure frustration. Increasingly Shepherd used a throw out to Jon Adams who trotted some ten/twenty yards up the pitch before sliding pass after pass towards their corner flag eating up valuable time giving the hard worked defence some respite whilst Ryan Howell and Richard Adams harried the daylights out of the Kidsgrove defenders forcing them into errors by putting the ball in to touch. Paul Nicholls came on for Richard Adams late on and despite Kidsgrove having ten ball boys instead of their normal solitary figure, referee Pardoe of Crewe found an added seven minutes from only four substitutions and no injuries. When the final whistle came on 52 minutes, the roar from the Leamington faithful must have been heard in Stoke, what a din.

Hardly a Brakes fan left the ground until the players finished their warming down exercises and as they began to troop off, a huge roar of approval greeted them - the players faces lit up like neon lights applauding the faithful in return. What a day, I won't forget this one in a hurry.

Men of the match, all thirteen of them as every individual played his part in a colossal club victory - Richard Morris; the imperious Jon Adams; Darran Tank - what a tank; Tom Sidwell; Ryan Parisi; Andy Gregory; Stuart Herlihy; Captain Marvel Leon Morgan; Richard Adams; Ryan Howell running the last ten minutes on empty yet still chased; Josh Blake; Paul Shepherd - what a goalie and Paul Nicholls. If Jason Cadden isn't careful, he will be well up there with Sid Ottewell, Jimmy Knox and Graham Allner - all Brakes legends. The final word must go to Athletic secretary Alan Thompson who said - "Your number 8 (Ed. Leon Morgan), what a player, haven't seen one like him for ages."

Attendance 429 - over two and a half times Athletic's previous best of the season.  In two cup ties, 3,250 has gone towards the new stand from the FA cup sponsors.

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