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Pride in our past
The history of Leamington Football Club 1891-2009
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FA Cup Preliminary round replay
Tue 30 Aug 05
By Roger Vincent

Tank Tips the Balance as Brakes Win Penalty Shoot-Out, but Thompson Stretchered Off

Darran Tank took Brakes' decisive 10th penalty after both teams had missed one early on and Snipes' captain Pascoe had just missed their 10th. He crashed the ball into the net and kept running, into the ecstatic crowd. Brakes took the lead twice in the 90 but were pegged back each time. Jon Adams scored in the 6th but a nasty injury to club captain, Steve Thompson, saw him stretchered off five minutes later and Brakes went quiet conceding from a free-kick in the 29th. Blake lashed in what looked like the winner in the 64th but Snipes equalised in the 76th. Brakes looked the stronger side and had most of the possession but couldn't finish it in extra time though justice was done in the end with a 9-8 penalties win. Brakes now go to Kidsgrove Athletic, who beat Stourbridge 5-2 in another replay last night, on Saturday 10 September in Qualifying R1.

Some of us of a nervous disposition saw similarities with the 5-0 drubbing at Meir in the opening match last season. It was an exceptionally hot day, traffic was locked everywhere and, as a consequence, the coach arrived much later than desirable with some players having to make their own way rather than trying to reach the coach in time.

It was a tight ground with little space between pitch and crowd and little depth for the 205 fans. Some would say friendly and I certainly haven't been squeezed past by so many bodies since my disco days. The pitch had a pronounced slope and was deceptively uneven, the ball bobbling considerably on what looked, superficially, a good surface and I saw dust being kicked up in the pre-match kickabout. But this is not a criticism of the ground staff; our own pitch is more uneven than it has been since being relaid due to the long dry spell.

Fears of a nightMeir were soon allayed however when Brakes took an early lead. Jon Adams tackled back to win the ball and fed Howell who held up the ball superbly before pulling it back for Jon Adams, following up, to crash into the roof of the net; 0-1 in the 6th.

With the crowd and team on a high disaster struck in the 11th minute when Steve Thompson came off worst in a 50:50 challenge by the centre spot. Dean Merrick, Brakes Sports Therapist, called for a stretcher immediately and Tommo was stretchered off with an exposed bone on his left foot and taken to Mansfield hospital. Parisi came on circa the 16th but the zip had gone for a while with the crowd also quiet at the loss of such a popular and influential player to a clearly unpleasant injury.

In the 29th it was 1-1 when two players went high for a ball on the edge of the box and the Leamington player was penalised; Cockerill drove a superb and unstoppable free kick to Shepherd's right. Both teams could have scored, Blake after a good interchange with Adams and Howell then a brilliant stop from Shepherd in the Brakes' goal when a Snipes forward had an open goal after a defender slipped in the area. Shepherd got down well for another excellent stop on the stroke of half-time but Brakes were back in command and dominating possession as the crowd and players lifted their spirits.

Brakes were in control at the start of the second half with Blake and Howell going close. One of many superb, teasing Kelsall crosses needed just a touch as Brakes turned the screw and the defence was locking out a Sutton side that looked to be struggling with fitness. In the 64th it was 1-2 when yet another Kelsall cross was lashed in by Blake.

This was an entertaining, even absorbing game though there were some tough tackles with Parisi and Rodman booked for Brakes but Snipes winning hands-down on the yellows count with maybe five, possibly more. Then, when Brakes looked to have done enough, a moment of uncertainlty let in Brown who smashed home at the second attempt for 2-2 in the 76th.

Astonishingly there had been no corners for either side at this point then two in quick succession, the first to the Snipes in the 79th then one to Brakes in the 80th. But the long-denied corners became a feature of the later stages as Brakes forced one after another despatched brilliantly by Kelsall, then by Rodman when Kelsall picked up an injury. I noted Five Brakes' corners between the 82nd and 88th minutes. But, despite several Gregory attempts with head and foot Danny Welsh stood firm in the Snipes' goal with a succession of excellent saves.

Usher came on for the limping Kelsall at the start of extra time and Brakes peppered the Snipes goal as their players visibly wilted. Gregory, twice, Adams, Rodman, Howell and Usher all had real chances but were kept at bay with the only threat from the Snipes superbly turned over and away by a back-pedalling Sidwell. As time drew to a close Rodman took a free kick after he was checked in the 119th that was just saved and Howell so nearly wrapped it up in the 120th just slightly mis-hitting his final shot after doing all the difficult work.

And so to penalties. The first two were despatched, Varley for the Snipes, first to strike, and Jon Adams for Brakes, 1-1. Then Morgan hit the bar after Short had scored and the Snipes led 2-1. But Shepherd saved brilliantly from Housley with Howell despatching Brakes' third to level it again at 2-2. Then an astonishing sequence of six saw both sides despatch all their penalties, Jepson, Cockerill, Holmes, goalie Welsh, Brown and Hurst for the Snipes; Rodman, Usher, Sidwell, Gregory, Blake and Parisi for the Brakes.

Up stepped Pascoe, captain of the Snipes, for the 10th penalty. Was Shepherd thinking that if this pair finished at 9-9 it was his turn next before we started again with Varley and Adams? But Pascoe drove high and over; then there was Tank, no visible nerves as fas as I could tell from behind the seat, a quick run-up and there was the ball nestling in the corner of the net, 9-8 to the Brakes. Tank kept going until he ended up in the group of fans behind the goal; players jumped and whooped, Leon Morgan limped off between two other players (someone had trodden on his foot) and we made it to the bar by 20 to 11 - just time for someone to buy me a drink but no time to buy one back before the shutters came down at 11; perfection.

Leamington: Paul Shepherd; Kristian Kelsall (Ben Usher 91); Darran Tank; Russell Dodd (Tom Sidwell 72); Andy Gregory; Steve Thompson (Ryan Parisi 14); Jon Adams; Leon Morgan [Capt]; Alex Rodman; Josh Blake
Subs Not Used: Richard Morris; Paul Eden

Sutton Town: Danny Welsh; Jason Pascoe [Capt]; James Jepson; Matt Varley; Stu Ashford; Josh Scott; Colin Cockerill; Danny Naylor; Ian Brown; Craig Mitchell; Mark Hurst
Subs Used: Dean Short; Craig Housley; Sam Holmes
Subs Not Used: Ricky Dolby

Players' News: Steve Thompson was taken to Mansfield Hospital with an operation expected the following day, Wednesday; Steve Smith was working but went to the hospital and reported back to the ground; Richard Adams was on holiday as was Andy Stidder.

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