Leamington 0 Burton Albion 5: Brakes’ cup hopes go for a Burton against League Two side

With England facing Germany and sub-zero temperatures descending on the county, this Birmingham Senior Cup game was never likely to attract a huge amount of interest, writes Paul Edwards.

David McNamee, seen here in  action for Livingston, made his Leamington debut in Tuesday nights Birmingham Senior Cup defeat to Burton.
David McNamee, seen here in action for Livingston, made his Leamington debut in Tuesday nights Birmingham Senior Cup defeat to Burton.

However, those who braved the freezing conditions saw Brakes put in a hard-working and honest performance against a Burton side which contained eight members of Gary Rowett’s first team squad.

With the prolific Rene Howe and exciting young striker Dominic Knowles in attack, the Brewers gave Paul Holleran’s men as stern a test as they are likely to face all season.

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In fairness to Leamington they did their best to move the ball around as quickly as their visitors in the opening stages but they were already hamstrung by a third-minute strike from Knowles, who took the ball round Lewis Fenney on the edge of the area and slotted into an empty net. There was a suspicion of offside but the Albion striker was too quick for both the officials and his opponents, and not for the first time during the evening.

Holleran took the opportunity to rotate his squad with five changes from the side that had done so well in the previous two matches. David McNamee made his debut after signing at the weekend, while Fenney, Luke Bottomer, Jake Heath and Lee Moore all started.

There was also an opportunity for Josh Hawker, Josh Green and Stefan Moore to get more game time.

Moore almost got the chance to drag Leamington level when he got clear of the Burton defence on the left but he was unable to dig the ball out from under his feet quickly enough and Brewers keeper Alex Morton was already alert to the danger.

Heath’s impressive footwork saw him step inside two defenders on the edge of the area and curl a shot just wide of the far post but chances were few and far between for the hosts.

Burton seemed able to carve out chances almost at will. Knowles controlled a high cross field pass with ease just outside the area before guiding a low shot wide of Fenney and into the far corner. The Brakes keeper did well to deny Knowles another goal as he was played clear again, doing enough to hold up the striker and allowing a teammate to clear the danger.

Leamington fashioned their best chance of the game shortly after half-time. More good work from Heath saw him create the space to play in a cross that was met by a powerful header from Moore at the near post, only for Morton to deny him with a fine reaction save.

Burton added to their lead just past the hour-mark when Knowles scythed through the Brakes defence before rifling a shot into the net and, with 13 minutes to play it was four when a smart challenge robbed Hawker in midfield and in an instant Howe was played in on goal, ghosting past two challenges and the keeper before rolling the ball into the net.

The visitors continued to fashion chances, Knowles being forced wide by Fenney as he was played clear again.

Adam Reed then rounded off the scoring with a cheeky fifth, lifting the ball over Fenney and into the far corner.

BRAKES: Lewis Fenney, David McNamee (James Husband, 64), Stephan Morley, Josh Hawker, Liam Daly, Josh Green (Joe Magunda, 46), Luke Bottomer, Jake Heath, Stefan Moore (Ricky Johnson, 62), Lee Moore, Lee Chilton. Subs not used: Matt Dodd, Tony Breeden.

BURTON: Alex Morton, Jack Dyer, Isaac Currie, Marcus Holness, Zander Diamond, Joe Doyle, Marcus Harness, Adam Reed, Dominic Knowles, Rene Howe, Jimmy Phillips. Subs not used: Mark Shelton, Ash Thorpe, Leandro Brown, Kevin Poole.