Brakes twice came from behind to progress to the second round of the Birmingham Senior Cup as they edged out Bedworth United at The Oval, writes Paul Edwards.
Despite the disappointing FA Trophy exit on Saturday, Paul Holleran fully utilised his squad for this game, making six changes to his starting line-up.
The hosts had also lost in the Trophy at the weekend and made wholesale changes of their own, with a largely youthful line-up supplemented by the experience of veteran defender Mark Albrighton and striker Justin Marsden.
Leamington settled quickly on the artificial surface and enjoyed plenty of possession in the opening stages.
Nathan Olukanmi had impressed in his first few appearances off the bench since his loan move from Worcester City, and was handed his full debut. The midfielder stabbed wide from Courtney Baker-Richardson’s pass.
Three corners in succession were forced by Brakes, James Mace coming close with a header that was deflected just over the bar.
He also fired in a shot that looked to be deflected behind only for a goal kick to be awarded.
Ben George then curled a shot over the bar before Bedworth stunned their visitors by taking the lead with their first shot of the game, breaking from a Leamington attack to devastating effect. Nathan McGarrity and Janabi Amour moved the ball swiftly upfield, the latter supplying Marsden with a pass that was firmly despatched past Tony Breeden for a fine goal.
Brakes were quickly level however, Ryan Quinn feeding Olukanmi for a burst in from the right wing to cut the ball into the six-yard box, Ryan Rowe side-footing home his 13th goal of the season.
Baker-Richardson set up Ahmed Obeng for a shot that was never likely to trouble Nicholas Draper in the Bedworth goal, while Callum Gittings back-heeled Tom James’ right-wing free-kick wide of the target.
The hosts responded with a shot from Nathan Cadby that was saved by Breeden, while Sam Aldhouse fired a free-kick high over the bar.
Bedworth regained the lead early in the second half. As with the first goal, Brakes gave the ball away with Mace the guilty party on this occasion, allowing Greenbacks skipper Kieron Brehon to dink the ball over Breeden from close range.
Neither side created anything of note as Leamington looked to be sliding towards a second cup defeat in four days, but the visitors swiftly turned the tables with two goals in as many minutes.
Mace atoned for his part in Bedworth’s second goal by cancelling it out with a thumping header in off the bar from James’ corner, before Olukanmi stormed down the right wing once more, nutmegging a defender on his way before whipping in a low centre which was guided home from close range by Baker-Richardson.
Olukanmi almost added a goal of his own in the closing stages, twisting and turning on the edge of the box before rifling in a powerful shot that Draper was equal to with a decent save.
Bedworth were unable to find a way through to save the tie and Brakes will now face their near neighbours Nuneaton Town at home in round two.
Bedworth United: Nicholas Draper, Richard Bryan, Sam Aldhouse, Marcel Simpson, Mark Albrighton, Brad Hardwick, Janabi Amour, Kieron Brehon, Nathan McGarrity, Justin Marsden (Jacob Dodds), Nathan Cadby. Subs not used: Abdul Ferej, Jack Shillock, Corey Parchment, Sam Holden.
Leamington: Tony Breeden ©, Ben George, Tom James, Ryan Quinn, Joe Magunda, James Mace, Nathan Olukanmi, Callum Gittings (15 Jack Edwards, 79), Courtney Baker-Richardson, Ryan Rowe (Richard Taundry, 79), Ahmed Obeng (Rob Thompson-Brown, 58).
Subs not used: 16 Jamie Hood, 17 Connor Gudger.