After notching just three goals in their previous four outings, Leamington rediscovered their goalscoring touch with a ruthless dismantling of Barwell on Saturday, writes Paul Okey.
Three goals in each half were enough to secure a passage to the second qualifying round of the FA Trophy and despite Barwell having one eye on Saturday’s FA Cup first-round tie, that should not take away from a confident display from the home side.
Ben Mackey was the first to get a clear sight of the Barwell goal in the seventh minute, racing clear after the final defender had made a hash of cutting out Jack Edwards’ through ball. However, a heavy second touch allowed keeper Liam Castle to save bravely at the feet of the striker.
It was to matter little as two minutes later Brakes opened the scoring.
Edwards released Lee Chilton on the left and then made up good ground to arrive at the far post and confidently guide the wideman’s cross home as Castle scurried across his goal.
Cameron Powell was off target as Barwell sought an instant reply, while Jamie Hood was fully extended to cut out a dangerous right-wing cross.
Brakes got the breathing space they needed just short of the half-hour when Castle’s punch from Ross Oulton’s cross hit Edwards and diverted into the path of Chilton, whose first-time shot beat the covering defenders on the line.
With the recriminations between the Barwell defence and midfield having barely died down, Leamington made it 3-0.
Oulton was again the instigator, turning his defender inside out before laying the ball on a plate for Mackey to head home at the far post.
Brakes were enjoying themselves now and a backheel from Chilton set up a shooting chance for Mackey, with Castle clinging on to his fierce drive at the second attempt.
Edwards nearly caught out Castle with a cheeky back-header after the break, but with the result already beyond doubt, the game understandably lost its way.
It needed a moment of magic to liven up the proceedings and Mackey duly provided it.
Receiving the ball with his back to goal, Mackey wrongfooted Barwell substitute Liam Kay before turning and slamming a shot into the roof of the net from close to the byline.
Former Mansfield Town striker Iyseden Christie was denied a consolation when Edwards got in the way of his powerful goalbound header, while Hood was lucky not to give away a penalty after his arm came into contact with the ball following a bustling run from the Barwell substitute.
Mackey was denied the chance to complete his hat-trick when he was replaced by Will Green and Jamie Tank came on for Joe Magunda as Paul Holleran turned his thoughts to Tuesday night’s game against Cambridge.
Seconds later, Barwell did get on the scoresheet, Nigel Julian outstripping Richard Taundry on the right and crossing for Anthony Carney to convert.
The goal was to prove only a minor irritant for the hosts, however, with Chilton restoring their four-goal cushion following a Green cutback despite a brave effort from Castle to keep it out.
Green then made it six, holding off the last man before poking the ball left-footed past Castle and there was still time for Chilton to spurn his treble chance with a lame dink which went straight into the arms of the keeper.
However, it would be churlish to be too critical of Chilton’s finish following an afternoon in which almost everything Brakes touched turned to goals.
Brakes: Tony Breeden, James Fry, Connor Gudger (Rob Ogleby, 46), Joe Magunda (Jamie Tank, 75), Jamie Hood, James Mace, Ross Oulton, Richard Taundry, Ben Mackey (Will Green, 77), Jack Edwards, Lee Chilton. Subs not used: Lee Moore, Eddie Caviezel-Cox.
Barwell: Liam Castle, Callum Woodward, Eddie Nisivec (Liam Kay, 24), Jordan Wakeling, Declan Towers, Richard Lavery, Alex Tomlinson (Brady Hickey, 53), Cameron Powell (Iyseden Christie, 46), Jamie Towers, Nigel Julien, Anthony Carney. Subs not used: Scott Lower, Danny Gaunt.