Heroic Trophy failure for Brakes battlers

BRAKES 2 BELPER TOWN 2 Belper Town won 4-3 on penalties

Brakes crashed out of their second cup competition in a week but not after a gargantuan effort with nine men, writes Paul Edwards.

In a reversal of Saturday’s fixture, Belper went two goals up and looked to be cruising, only for Richard Batchelor to single-handedly drag Leamington level before his injury and Jamie Hood’s sending-off left the short-handed hosts fighting an ulitimately fruitless rearguard action.

Tom Berwick had an early chance to draw first blood when he chased down a through ball but having drawn keeper Aaron Chapman, he curled his shot wide of an empty net.

Belper began to settle into the game and took the lead in the 11th minute, Andrew Siribour blasting into the roof of the net from close range after Kevin Sawyer had done superbly to save the initial effort.

Matt Dodd caused problems for the Nailers defence down the right with his close control and mazy runs and, as Brakes strove to get back on level terms, Lee Chilton’s powerful deflected drive was saved by Chapman while Batchelor headed wide from a corner.

There was ironic cheering and applause from the visiting bench when they won a free-kick, clearly feeling they had not been getting the rub of the green with regard to decisions, but their team were certainly in the ascendancy.

Ashley Longstaff fired in a first-time shot from a right-wing cross that was saved by Sawyer and Simon Harrison curled a free-kick well wide.

The Belper lead was doubled three minutes into the second half when Simon Harrison’s low shot through a crowd found the bottom corner.

There looked to be little hope for Leamington, but they were right back in the tie six minutes later.

A right-wing free-kick was played into the box and, after his first effort was blocked, Richard Batchelor arrowed the follow-up through a sea of legs and into the net.

Briefly shaken by the reply, Belper were quickly on the offensive again, Siribour blasting over when well placed, and Karl Colley firing just over the bar.

At the other end, Chapman kept his side in front with a superb tip- over from Stephan Morley’s powerful first-time drive.

With 12 minutes left it was all to play for as Batchelor collected the ball from a throw-in and turned his marker before curling an inch-perfect shot into the top corner.

Unfortunately, he aggravated an old injury in the process and was forced off minutes later, leaving Brakes a man light with their three substitutes having already been thrown on.

James Husband beat the sodden turf in frustration after creating a glorious chance for himself to win the game with some neat footwork and an exchange of passes with fellow substitute Ricky Johnson, but the end product sailed over the bar.

Leamington were enjoying their best spell of the game but with no further goals the tie moved into extra-time and swung heavily in Belper’s favour when Jamie Hood was shown a straight red card for a two-footed lunge on Colin Marrison.

The initial danger passed as Sawyer saved the resulting free-kick but the pressure began to grow and Liam Daly was well placed to block a close-range shot.

The visitors went agonisingly close to regaining the lead when a free header struck the post from a few yards out.

Then an almighty scramble ended with an amazing one-handed save from Sawyer, earning the keeper a huge ovation from the Brakes support huddled into the Harbury Lane End ahead of the second period.

The Belper onslaught continued but Brakes gave everything for the cause. A skidding shot was thumped into the midriff of Sawyer with Daly almost getting a touch that might have sent it past him.

There were some heroic blocks to prevent shots on goal and from one, Berwick broke upfield and picked out Morley with a great pass which allowed his team-mate to run on and drive a shot across goal.

Sawyer saved again from Nailers substitute Andy Rushbury and somehow Leamington saw the game out to the dreaded penalty lottery.

Berwick stepped up to fire the first one home and Marrison did likewise for the visitors.

Joe Magunda then shaved the outside of the post with his spot-kick but Sawyer came to the rescue once again, diving to his left to keep out Rushbury’s effort.

Daly confidently crashed his penalty home, as did Jordan Ball for Belper, but Morley’s miss proved fatal, the ball whizzing inches the wrong side of the post. Harrison scored Belper’s next penalty and Ricky Johnson put his away for Brakes but Richard Adams kept his nerve to slot home and earn Belper’s passage to the next round.

Leamington: Kevin Sawyer, James Mace, Stephan Morley, Joe Magunda, Jamie Hood, Liam Daly, Matt Dodd (Ricky Johnson, 60), Lee Chilton (James Husband, 73), Tom Berwick, Lee Moore (Alex Taylor, 73), Richard Batchelor. Subs not used: Sam Adkins, Michael Quirke.

Belper Town: Aaron Chapman, Aaron Pride, Greg Wright, Colin Marrison, Richard Adams, Karl Colley, Simon Harrison, Steve Warne, Ashley Longstaff (Mark Ward, 85), Andrew Siribour (Jordan Ball, 70), Ryan Mallon (Andy Rushbury, 105).Subs not used: Michael Simpkins, Dave Ratcliffe.