Brakes let slip a two-goal lead in rousing Trophy encounter


Brakes were happy to still be in with a chance of reaching the second qualifying round of the FA Trophy after surrendering a two-goal lead at Christchurch Meadow, writes Paul Edwards.

After surviving a bright start from the home side, along with a penalty scare, Paul Holleran’s men looked to have taken control of the tie with two late first-half goals. However, Belper produced a stirring fightback to draw level and from then the tie could have swung either way.

There were half-chances for both sides in the opening exchanges, Richard Batchelor heading a free-kick well wide and Lee Chilton missing the target after working himself into a good position.

Colin Marrison headed a free-kick straight at Kevin Sawyer at the other end before the same player was handed the chance to put the hosts in front after Batchelor’s trip on Andrew Siribour.

The spot-kick was low and to the goalkeeper’s right but Sawyer, who celebrated becoming a father during the week, produced a strong hand to keep it out.

It was something of a let-off for Leamington, who had been second-best until this point, but they almost took the lead themselves in their next attack. Tom Berwick slipped a pass through to Matt Dodd, who evaded a challenge and drove the ball across goal, but nobody could apply the final touch.

Indecision in the Belper defence contributed to the opener in the 36th minute, but it still required a measured finish from Berwick to capitalise. Chasing a hopeful pass, his predatory instincts came to the fore as he nipped between stranded keeper Aaron Chapman and the covering defender before steering a delightful effort into the net.

Two minutes before the break the advantage was doubled when Stephan Morley crashed in a 30-yard free-kick.

Andy Rushbury’s misjudgment presented Lee Moore with the chance to add a third but Chapman spared the substitutes’s blushes.

In the 58th minute, a dangerous ball caused panic in the Belper penalty area, but Brakes were unable to take advantage and 30 seconds later the home side reduced the deficit, Siribour taking capitalising on a Liam Daly slip to mark the first game of his loan spell with a goal.

Berwick and Batchelor both saw close-range shots blocked as Leamington responded while Longstaff should have levelled only to put his free header over the bar. He quickly made amends, however, bundling in from close range with 20 minutes to go after initially striking the bar with a header.

The tie was right back in the balance and there was an almighty scare for the visitors when Sawyer dropped a cross right in front of Simon Harrison, but Morley was well placed to clear.

The keeper then redeemed himself when saving from Ryan Mallon.

Chances continued to flow, with substitute Mark Ward blasting over for the hosts after his initial shot was blocked and Daly adamant he should have been awarded a penalty after a a shove in the back.

Ricky Johnson almost marked his Brakes debut with a goal, but his header was inches over, leaving the two sides to renew hostilities on Tuesday evening.

Belper: Aaron Chapman, Aaron Pride (15 Andy Rushbury, 52), Greg Wright, Colin Marrison, Richard Adams, Karl Colley, Simon Harrison, Steve Warne, Ashley Longstaff (Mark Ward, 84), Andrew Siribour (Jordan Ball, 81), Ryan Mallon.Substitutes: 16 Michael Simpkins, Dave Ratcliffe.

Leamington: Kevin Sawyer, James Mace, Stephan Morley, Joe Magunda, Jamie Hood, Liam Daly, Matt Dodd (Alex Taylor, 78), Lee Chilton (James Husband, 84), Tom Berwick (Ricky Johnson, 71), Lee Moore, Richard Batchelor. Subs not used: Sam Adkins, Michael Quirke.

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