Brakes boss ‘bitterly disappointed’ by Trophy exit

BRAKES boss Paul Holleran labelled his side’s defending as ‘pathetic’ and bemoaned a ‘missed opportunity’ after his side were dumped out of the FA Trophy by Belper Town on Tuesday night.

Despite seeing a two-goal lead wiped out in Derbyshire on Saturday, Leamington were still overwhelming favourites going into the replay against a side 41 places below them in the Pyramid.

However, on a soggy night at The New Windmill, Brakes found themselves 2-0 down and had to produce a spirited recovery of their own, only to lose 4-3 on penalties.

“I’m bitterly disappointed,” said Holleran.

“We keep saying how important a good cup run will be and we’ve got a great opportunity to get into the third qualifying round with a home tie [against Cammell Laird or Kendal Town] in the next round.

“But we keep letting ourselves down.

“And it was all our own doing - their goals were pathetic.

“You’ve got to give them credit for coming back from the dead on Saturday.

“But no disrespect to Belper, we need to be beating teams like that.”

Having bowed out of the FA Cup only ten days previously, the gloss is in danger of coming off an excellent opening to the season which sees Leamington sitting pretty at the top of the Southern League Premier Division.

Fresh from a 22-match unbeaten run, Brakes are now four games into a winless sequence and Holleran admitted it had been a tough couple of weeks.

“We’ve hit a wobble,” he said.

“At ten-past four on Saturday afternoon we’re 2-0 up and we’ve done everything right, but we’ve not been professional enough to see out the game.

“We’ve come back to Leamington and the first half we’ve been dreadful - we didn’t do anything.

“But at 2-2 with 11 men on the pitch there was only going to be one winner.

“With ten men we were still creating chances.

“Jimmy Husband has put the last man on his backside but hasn’t hit the target.

“And that was the case in both matches, we just haven’t been clinical enough.”

The former Halesowen boss has also seen Michael Tuohy and Craig Owen depart the club, while his threadbare squad will be further depleted by the loss of captain Jamie Hood for three matches after his extra-time sending-off.

However, one positive for Holleran emerged with the news that Richard Batchelor might only miss two matches after limping out of Tuesday’s tie.

Initial diagnosis suggested Batchelor, who scored both goals in midweek, had suffered a recurrence of the metatarsal break which ended his 2011/12 campaign.

However, Holleran said the injury is not as bad as was first feared.

“He hasn’t cracked a bone but he has done a little bit of damage.

“But rather than six to eight weeks, it might be a 14-day thing.”

Holleran should have one reinforcement ahead of Tuesday’s home clash with Kettering, with keeper Niall Cooper on the verge of joining from Redditch.

The paperwork had been completed at the Leamington end at the time of going to press, but the 21-year-old was still awaiting clearance from the Reds.

However, that is expected to be a mere formality and the former Kettering, Romulus and Sutton Coldfield Town stopper is expected to go straight into the side at the expense of Kevin Sawyer.

“He’s someone we thought about in the summer, but Nathan Vaughan’s departure left it too late to do anything,” said Holleran.

“We’ve had him watched five times this season and he’s the nearest thing we’ve seen to Tony Breeden.”

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