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The history of Leamington Football Club 1891-2009
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FA Cup Fourth Qualifying round
Sat 22 Oct 05
By Roger Vincent

Brakes Off For Journey Into Uncharted Territory

Ossett top striker Walshaw gave his team an early lead and scored a penalty five minutes from normal time but Brakes scored three in between through Blake and the Adams brothers to ensure that Leamington FC's astonishing FA Cup run continues, in their first year in the competition, with a place in R1 proper two weeks away at Division 1 Colchester United.

900 people were at Ingfield, a stadium which, despite pre-match hype, much of it from Ossett, is a well-apportioned ground with good facilities and a lush, even playing surface, albeit wet and slippery after a lot of heavy rain. No sign of cows having been on the pitch, the clubhouse was certainly a lot bigger than a shed, bigger even than a cowshed, and the natives were friendly and welcoming.

But for 15 minutes Brakes looked to have met their match against the Northern Premier side, two steps ahead of Leamington at level 3. First Parisi and then Gregory stopped Walshaw breaking on goal with timely tackles but couldn't stop Walshaw forcing the ball over the line from a Hansen corner for 1-0 in the 10th. The Ossett fans sang happily and taunted the Brakes fans with "You're not singing anymore". Behind Shepherd's goal the Ossett fans tried to unsettle Brakes 'keeper, just as the Brakes fans do to opposing 'keepers at the NWG. Brakes' players seemed uncertain and were having difficulty in coping with a good side that stroked the ball around and did things quickly.

Then, remarkably, it all changed; it was as if Cadden's men needed that quarter of an hour to feel their way into a new level, to adapt to the new job description. Howell and Thompson started to make forward runs, Morgan netted in the 21st after a ricochet in the Ossett box but was adjudged to have handled and, although Parisi headed off the line in the 23rd Jon Adams broke from the clearance to feed Thompson who was only just robbed as he made for goal.

Suddenly it all seemed possible. The vocal Ossett crowd folded their arms and seemed silently pensive but the biggest change was on the players' expressions. Brakes' now seemed composed but the Ossett men looked puzzled, some looked angry and others had fear in their eyes for the first time. It was as if they had a collective moment of awareness that this was not to be a gentle stroll against lowly Leamington and that they no longer knew what it was they were up against. And that was before Brakes scored.

Neil Bennett, in the Ossett goal, miskicked a back-pass from his own player to send the ball spinning into the air - and then caught it, a clear infringement of the back-pass law. The free kick inside the area was cleared by a packed defence but came out to Jon Adams who fed Gregory and Blake headed home his cross for 1-1 in the 29th.

The majority Brakes crowd erupted; the Ossett contingent's silence deepened. Then it was 1-2. Another free kick for Brakes was cleared to Jon Adams who rifled home a 25yd screamer in the 32nd. Now this was a real cup match. Ossett fought back and scorer Blake now turned defensive hero with two saving tackles in two minutes. Rodman turned past four defenders one moment and was back taking the ball off danger-man Walshaw the next. Shepherd turned a goal-bound Walshaw drive round the post in the 40th and as the half ended Gregory made a last-ditch tackle. And, in the middle of all this mayhem one man stood supreme, Darran Tank made the middle of the defence his territory in a magnificent performance, and all (we're told by our spy in the camp) without getting any mud on his shorts!

Now Brakes moved up a gear and made the second half theirs. The silence from the Ossett crowd was deafening. Gregory, arriving late at the far post for a Rodwell corner, saw his powerful header flash just over the bar and, two minutes later in the 55th, a Morgan header from a Rodman free-kick had a similar fate. Ossett made their second substitution as Brakes pushed them onto the back foot.

But it was Brakes first substitution that brought the next goal. Martin Thompson, with Howell, had run the Ossett defence ragged with their surging runs and Ossett must have been delighted when Thompson went off. But on came Brakes' leading striker, Richard Adams, and five minutes later in the 66th he slotted home for 1-3 after a run that took Morgan past four defenders before releasing Adams.

Not to be outdone brother Jon unleashed one of his 35yd specials in the 74th hitting the bar from a free-kick, and Eden, on for the tiring Howell, should have done enough to earn a penalty a minute later when Richard Adams ran past the defence and released him into the area where he seemed to be brought down. But this was not a dirty game and the officials are to be commended for keeping a rugged, but fair, game flowing.

As Ossett moved upfield more chances came Brakes' way as they threatened to tie up the game with a fourth. First Eden crossed for Richard Adams to send a diving header just wide, then Kelsall, on for Rodman, set up Eden who saw his curving shot slip agonisingly just past the post.

But what looked like a safe 3-1, and likely 4-1, result changed in a moment. A rare foray by Ossett resulted in a corner into a crowded goalmouth. The ball ran free and Morgan leaped across goal to make a magnificent save. Walshaw converted the penalty in the 85th for 2-3 against, now, 10-man Brakes with Morgan receiving the obligatory red.

But Brakes hung on for another nine minutes to record a famous victory and earn a place in R1 proper at Division One Colchester United, the draw heard, in the clubhouse, by oohing fans who had to wait until near the end of the draw for Leamington's number to come up.

This was a truly magnificent performance and everybody played well. Jason Cadden was, understandably, euphoric though that was tinged with some sadness at Morgan's sending-off. Leon admitted that in the heat of the moment he simply reacted instinctively and only realised that he would get a one-match suspension as he walked off. When that suspension will be nobody yet knows.

We shouldn't just laud the players but the management also who got their tactics and substitutions spot-on. And the rain held off until the game finished - now that hasn't happened for a while.

With the defeat of Bishops Cleeve, and Chasetown's draw, Brakes are the lowest level club through to R1 though Chasetown could join them if they beat Blyth Spartans in their replay on Tuesday.

The FA website, CEEFAX, Sky, and the Observer (Sunday National) all had, and still have at the time of writing on Sunday morning, a 2-4 win. The Observer has a Tank goal in the 90th. I can throw no light on this but it was 2-3. Perhaps Tankie celebrated too much and thought he'd get his name up in lights!

Leamington: Paul Shepherd; Alex Rodman (Kristian Kelsall 80); Darran Tank; Ryan Parisi; Andy Gregory; Stuart Herlihy; Jon Adams; Leon Morgan [Capt]; Martin Thompson (Richard Adams 61); Ryan Howell (Paul Eden 75); Josh Blake
Subs Not Used: Neil Stacey; Richard Morris

Ossett Town: Neil Bennett; Danny Brown (Adam Jones 45); Jordan Burke; Neil Allinson; Steve Price [Capt]; Luke Staton; Joe Walsh (Ian Farmery 56); David Briggs; Tore Hansen (Adam Arthur 81); Jamie Walshaw; Colin Williamson
Subs not used: John Hood; Rob O'Brien

Attendance 900

Players' News: Steve Smith missed as his wife is expecting a baby "imminently"; Tom Sidwell has a strain

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