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The history of Leamington Football Club 1891-2009
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FA Cup Second Qualifying round replay
Tue 27 Sep 05
By Roger Vincent

Brakes Steal Win From Poachers To Keep FA Cup Dream Alive

Brakes stole the first half and were worth their 1-0 lead from an early Jon Adams strike but Oadby (the "Poachers") perhaps should have taken the game in the second, which they dominated, with only a late equaliser to show for their efforts. Two tired teams saw out extra time with Brakes winning the penalty shoot-out 4-2 after two more superb saves from man-of-the-match Shepherd adding to a succession of good stops throughout the game. Leamington's prize is 3,750 and a 3rd (qualifying) round home tie against Woodford United who also won a replay on penalties against Redditch United.

Brakes dominated the very early stages with two chances in the first five minutes before Jon Adams picked up a superb Morgan through ball rounding the 'keeper to slot home in the 11th minute, 0-1. But this was not to be one of those games where Brakes fast-running forwards run riot before the opposition have settled, indeed nobody who has seen Oadby, on two occasions now this season, would be so easily misled. They are a good footballing side, perhaps one of the best that Brakes have faced since their rebirth, but they lack a real striker to turn the "good" into "great".

And, fortunately for Brakes, when Oadby did strike they found Shepherd between the posts in great form, improving from an already good position with each game of an extended run since Morris's injury. In the 18th he made an exceptional save from an Oadby free-kick and helped Brakes keep a clean sheet in a period of sustained pressure leading up to the half hour. But Brakes finished the first half the stronger with Richard Adams robbed as he pulled the trigger, brother Jon shooting marginally over and the excellent Kelsall pushing and probing down the right releasing dangerous crosses into the Oadby area.

But the second half was a different story. How much was due to Jon Adams having to be replaced at half-time is uncertain but Brakes are less formidable without him. That is not to detract from Rodman, who replaced him, and who many fans think is a future star; but Jon Adams is Brakes' playmaker and, without him, they stutter. In fact after early dominance (Oadby clearly don't start off the blocks very well) when Blake, Richard Adams and Gregory set up Morgan for what could well have been a decisive goal in the 47th and Rodman release Richard Adams for another chance in the 51st, Oadby mostly dominated the second period.

Pressed back into their own half Brakes were reduced to clearing long balls upfield with no-one to pick them up, except, maybe, Oadby's increasingly influential young 'keeper, Pearson, who was almost playing a sweeper role. Morgan took the ball off the toe of one attacker as he looked certain to score and Tank and Gregory showed their worth with truly awesome performances that kept Brakes ahead. Howell came on for Kelsall and provided some relief with his ability to hold up the ball but the Oadby pressure was relentless.

However Oadby still lacked a killer punch. A rare Brakes foray earnt a free-kick only for the ball to be given away leaving an Oadby striker with a free run on goal with the Brakes defence upfield. But, in the 76th, Shepherd, once again, saved brilliantly to deny Oadby an equaliser that even the most rabid Brakes fan now conceded they deserved.

Then, just as Brakes' fans were thinking that having withstood all that pressure Oadby were destined never to score, and at the same time as the first match, the 80th minute, the equaliser came courtesy of Chapman's head from a corner on the left, 1-1. But now, for the first time since the early minutes of the second half, Brakes were back in the game. Perhaps Oadby felt they'd achieved their objective of forcing extra time, and relaxed a little, but it was Brakes who nearly won it inside the 90 and Oadby who started to look as if they would be the first to tire in extra time. They were nearly undone by the sweeper 'keeper when Blake tried a long shot into the absent goalmouth in added time after the 90 only to see it headed clear by a speedy defender and there was still time for Morgan to miss a good chance as the ball pinged around the Oadby area and their defenders made wild clearances to emulate their Brakes' counterparts for much of the half.

Compared with the rest of the game extra time seemed to be played in slow-motion with Brakes looking more like winning it. A Rodman free kick in the 93rd was narrowly wide and, two minutes later, Gegory earnt a free kick in front of goal when he ran pwerfully into the area and was brought down; this time Blakes's ferocious drive hit a defender who, remarkably, stayed upright. Blake was the man of these moments as, with all around him wilting, he seemed still full of running. The second period of extra time was a succession of Brakes' chances but Shepherd saved well in the 106th and with two minutes remaining made the save of the match tipping over a ferocious shot after an Oadby free kick from near the left corner flag.

And so to penalties. The body languages of the huddled teams distinguished little except that Howell seemed, to me, to be the only one bouncing around and not in mortal terror - which is more than could be said for his mother! Oadby's young 'keeper is truly excellent and we'll hear more of him in future years whilst Shepherd is also an excellent 'keeper who had just played a blinder. So, the scene was set for an intriguing, gladiatorial contest. But Howell had bounced for the right reasons; the young striker strode up confidently to ram home the first penalty and Shepherd saved a nervous strike by Oadby's Fisher. The scene was set and all of Brakes' penalties were excellent with the 'keeper not getting close. Rodman's was pure class; they don't seem to build youngsters with nerves these days.

In the clubhouse we were privileged to be congratulated wholeheartedly by a disappointed, but accepting, Oadby officials, their fans and players, one of the most truly nice clubs we have met. We have played three times now and there is no animosity, only respect. We just hope they don't discover their missing ingredient before we meet again in February. We heard that Redditch United and Woodford United had also gone to penalties in their replay, a match still in progress. Woodford prevailed and come to the NWG for Qualifying Round 3 on Saturday 8 October. Cancel holidays, weddings and funerals; and be there.

Penalties (Brakes first):
Howell unstoppable; Fisher saved by Shepherd 1-0
Richard Adams driven hard and low; Matthews kept Oadby in it 2-1
Gregory smashed home; Warner for Oadby 3-2
Rodman classy tickle into corner; Chapman, brilliant diving save by Shepherd 4-2

Leamington: Paul Shepherd; Kristian Kelsall (Ryan Howell 70); Darran Tank; Tom Sidwell; Ryan Parisi; Andy Gregory; Stuart Herlihy; Leon Morgan [Capt]; Jon Adams (Alex Rodman h-t); Richard Adams; Josh Blake
Subs Not Used: Andy Stidder; Ben Usher; Paul Eden

Oadby Town: Laurie Pearson; Carl Bacon; Jamie March [Capt.]; Nick Matthews; Adam Hart; Ross Blockley; Aarron Butcher; Ashley Warner; John Chapman; David Fisher; Steve Frain
Subs from: Matt Howarth; Chris McCathie; Marc Orton; Kevin Ward; Danny Pickering [GK]

Attendance 356

Players' News: Jon Adams virus, went off feeling unwell.

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