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The history of Leamington Football Club 1891-2009
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FA Cup Third Qualifying round
Sat 8 Oct 05
By Roger Vincent

Ice Cool is Alex as Brakes Hit the Heights

Driving rain, which started at 1pm and lasted throughout the game, kept the crowd down to 1,027 but couldn't dampen the spirits of the Leamington fans who watched their team dominate the second half after a goalless opening period when Rodman hit the bar and Shepherd saved spectacularly just before the break. But Alex Rodman found his length in the second half with a 30yd free kick just inside the post with 15 minutes left, and a coolly despatched second from a slide-rule Eden pass near the end. Brakes now go into Monday's draw with the Conference big-boys one win away from a possible tie against league opposition in the 1st round proper.

Cap'n Morgan missed this one having been forced to walk the plank for a week and Darran Tank took the captain's armband to maintain his 100% record in that role. Driving rain throughout the match would have put the dampers on many occasions, but not this one, with a large crowd also pouring in, the CWR Radio car on the Sheepside verge and the Sun photographer joining the band of snappers for that paper's Road to Wembley item starting on Monday. Martin Thompson made his season's debut after being sidelined through injury though latterly plying his trade on loan to Alveston now transformed from bottom to top of the Midland Combination; we imply no connection but his many fans were delighted to have him back. a special real ale, Brakes Fluid, commemorating Brakes' achievements in 2004-05, was on sale in the clubhouse, and manager Cadden was still flushed from a starring role on BBC TV's Midlands Today programme the previous evening.

So a huge, noisy, colourful occasion - as any fan will tell you, a sure recipe for total disaster.

But not this time. Within 40 seconds Richard Adams was just wide with a low drive and Blake was close minutes later as Brakes applied early pressure. Woodford buckled but didn't break though a through ball from Tank to Richard Adams in the 18th deserved better with Adams earning a corner from a last-ditch tackle. This was already a blood and thunder cup-tie with Brakes not succumbing to physical pressure as some fear they could. In fact some of the interpassing was as good as any we have seen at the NWG with Howell playing, probably, his best game for Brakes with a complete performance and linking well with the returning Martin Thompson who looked well worth his place with some match-fitness at this level still to come.

As the minor niggles started to mount Woodford replaced Pearman with Ian King in the 26th and brought a cheer from their two coachloads of support when they netted in the 28th after a foul on Shepherd. Richard Adams chased down an "impossible" ball in the 38th and backheeled into the path of Blake who blasted just over before two events, that defined the opening period, brought the half to a goalless end. The first was a superb free kick from fully 30 yds by Rodman that smacked the United crossbar ("getting his length" pronounced one Brakes' fan) and then, maybe the turning point of the game, when Shepherd saved quite brilliantly at close range in the 45th, a seemingly certain "goal" that would have changed the game.

In the first minute after the break Rodman, who was becoming increasingly influential, skipped past two defenders to hit the top of the bar ("he's got his range now, next one will go in" muttered our prescient Brakes' fan) and then, just after Smith had replaced Sidwell (twinge), who'd also had one of his best games, something really rather wonderful happened involving both Adamses, Howell, Thompson and Herlihy - but I've no idea what as I've only got a blue smudge on a soggy notebook; but it was good, oh so good.

The rain thundered down. A hopeful "it's getting brighter" was followed by the realisation that the floodlights had been turned on. Martin Thompson, back in defence, cleared after a Woodford corner but a purple patch followed for Brakes who began to dominate the game. Gordon replaced Milner for United and Ridley got a yellow for shirt-tugging as Woodford tried to get back into the game. But Gregory started to make his presence known upfield as Brakes increased the pressure. Champelovier was replaced by Neil King in the 73rd as United used the last of their substitutes and Tank immediately made a superb saving tackle. But this marked the end of United's resistance as Ridley received his second yellow, and marching orders, after bringing down Howell. Up stepped that man Rodman, range and length computed, to blast another 30yd free kick, low and hard just inside the left post, 1-0 in the 75th.

But this woke up Woodford; Thompson got a yellow for delaying a free kick and two minutes later, in the 79th, another Woodford free-kick was blocked by the wall. On came Eden, for the tiring Richard Adams, to display his silky skills, perhaps better suited to this higher level, and after several minutes of cultured play he released a text book, slide-rule (and any other superlatives you can think of) diagonal pass that split the defence and reached the feet of Rodman who ran on to slip the ball past the United 'keeper for his second, and 2-0, on the night in the 89th.

Manager Cadden said after the game that he was "chuffed to bits" with his team, especially their work-rate, and that they thoroughly deserved to go through to the next round. He added that this was another good pay day for Leamington with an excellent crowd and £5,000 prize money on top. It was also great for the town. He was looking forward to a bit of revenge on Tuesday night [against Oldbury United who beat Brakes 4-1 in the league earlier in the season] and hoped to include Moreton Titterton and Neil Stacey in the squad.

Leamington: Paul Shepherd; Alex Rodman; Darran Tank [Capt]; Tom Sidwell (Steve Smith 47); Andy Gregory; Stuart Herlihy; Jon Adams; Ryan Howell; Martin Thompson; Richard Adams (Paul Eden 83); Josh Blake
Subs Not Used: Ryan Parisi; Andy Stidder; Kristian Kelsall

Woodford United: Matt Finlay; Lewis Travers; Terry Fitton; Kai Ridley; Adam Knight [Capt]; Craig Pearman (Ian King 26); Arran Parkinson; Neil Champelovier (Neil King 73); Russell Dunkley; Ben Milner (Nicky Gordon 58); Stuart Haynes
Subs not used: Carl Standen; Carl Oliver

Attendance 1,027

Players' and Other News: Tom Sidwell went off with a hamstring twinge which may mean he misses Tuesday's match; Moreton Titterton and Neil Stacey could make debuts on Tuesday; Richard Adams misses both Tuesday's Birmingham Senior Cup match and next Saturday's league match through 7 days suspension but Stuart Herlihy's longer suspension is the subject of an appeal so does not start this coming week after all. The postponed Stourbridge match at the NWG in the league is rearranged for Tuesday 1 November, 7:45, but Romulus now join the list of matches to be rearranged as the next round of the FA Cup, Qualifying Round 4, is on the 22 October - Brakes' new opponents will be online ASAP after the FA draw 11am Monday.

By Paul Vanes

Singing in the rain

Despite non stop driving rain, the pitch at Harbury Lane was a tribute to Nigel Hodgkins skill as the surface water simply vanished and the match was played in a high tempo in typical cup tie style cut and thrust with the Brakes managing to restrict their UCL opponents to mainly long range stuff. Leamington were on the attack from the opening minute when Richard Adams made space before unleashing a 20 yard shot that flashed by the near post with keeper Matt Finlay scrambling across his goalmouth and on 6 minutes a 30 yard free kick from Josh Blake was well held by Finlay. Only desperate rearguard defending by United kept Brakes at bay with Blake, Richard Adams and Martin Thompson all having close range shots blocked on or near the line as the harassed defence got the ball out for a corner then Woodford finally got into the game as Craig Pearman collected a loose ball, strode forward to crack a drive a foot wide. United got the ball in the Brakes net but referee Cairns had already blown for a robust challenge by Russell Dunkley on home keeper Paul Shepherd then Darran Tank and Jon Adams relieved the mounting pressure with solid tackles before United were forced to substitute Pearman with Ian King on 26 minutes. Leamington swept back on attack being awarded a free kick some 30 yards out which Alex Rodman teed up before striking the crossbar with Finlay beaten all ends up, Blake was next to be penalised for an aerial challenge on Finlay as the referee was consistent in his decisions. On the stroke of half time, United floated in a corner well met by the powerful Dunkley and his downward close range header was goal bound until Shepherd flew through the air to punch away with United ready to celebrate the lead and that was the moment Woodford heads started to drop.

Woodford manager Phil Mason’s half time pep talk made little difference and within three minutes of the restart Leamington had to change as Steve Smith replaced Tom Sidwell before Richard Adams won a tackle to send a shot just over the angle and the same player beat Finlay to a through ball, flicked it past the keeper as he was falling but it lacked the pace as a defender easily cleared the danger. Stuart Herlihy ended a four man move with a rasping shot and at the Harbury Lane end, Leamington put the ball over their own goal to clear with United‘s half hearted appeals for handball which were brushed aside then United made another change as Ben Milner departed and Nicky Gordon entered the fray. On 62 minutes Kai Ridley was booked for Woodford then Richard Adams broke free to feed Martin Thompson who hooked a shot over the bar, Blake put a superb ball up the line for Richard Adams but the ball was forced out for a corner as the Brakes kept up sustained pressure with two more corners following but Lewis Travers came to the visitors rescue. It was now all Leamington. On 73 minutes Woodford made their final substitution as Neil Champelovier made way for Neil King and seconds later, United engineered the chance of the match for Gordon only six yards from goal but he needed too much time to control the ball when a first time effort must have paid dividends and as Leamington sent the ball upfield, last man Ridley brought down Richard Adams 30 yards from goal leaving the referee little alternative but to produce a second yellow card and he was sent off. From the resultant free kick, either the wall moved a fraction or the keeper poorly aligned them up as Alex Rodman was given a two inch gap at the near post to use as a target and he drilled a low bullet of a kick into the net to send most of the 1,027 fans deliriously happy then Thompson was booked as Brakes contested everything and with seven minutes left, manager Jason Cadden took off Richard Adams who begins a seven day suspension immediately following this game and brought on Paul ‘Sniffer’ Eden who brought a different approach to the attack and on 85 minutes, a defender almost blocked Sniffer’s shot as the ball ballooned over the keeper to land on the roof of the net for a corner. Haynes was next to enter the referee’s book and in the final minute, another flowing Leamington move saw Eden thread the pass of the match to Rodman who coolly picked his spot to give Finlay no chance as the North Bank celebrated in style. Dunkley played a tremendous game for United as did his opposite number Martin Thompson for the Brakes and the only quote worth recording was Darren ‘Panzer’ Tank who said he keeps his 100 % record of not being on the losing side when he is the skipper. As normal, Mr. Cadden kept his players on the pitch doing the warming down exercises before leaving to a tremendous ovation from the faithful and the biggest cheer went to keeper Paul Shepherd who made that crucial first half injury time save, it was time to visit the clubhouse and sink a bottle of the specially brewed Brakes Beer, good health! Alex Rodman was interviewed following the final whistle for both local radio and the press. Deputy chairman Vic Shepherd was bang on target with his pre match forecast of 2-0 to the Brakes and the biggest grin belonged to suspended skipper Leon Morgan who is back in action on Tuesday as the Brakes meet Oldbury United in our first Birmingham Senior cup tie since we were beaten 1-4 by Birmingham City at the old Windmill on November 17th, 1987.

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