Brakes emerged victorious after a gruelling 120 minutes of football at Dales Lane which saw Rushall drag themselves level twice before substitute Ben Mackey’s extra-time winner, writes Paul Edwards.
The galeforce winds that forced the postponement of the original replay were thankfully absent but, with rain lashing down at regular intervals, conditions were still testing.
Joe Magunda fired well over the bar early on for Leamington, while Rob Ogleby’s neat turn and shot went somewhat closer, just clearing the bar. Former Brakes loanee Jake Heath then went close for the hosts with a powerful low drive that was deflected just wide of the upright.
Alex Reid looked to have engineered a real opportunity to open the scoring as he managed to get past Tony Breeden on the right side of the penalty area, but he snatched at his shot and the ball rippled the side netting.
Lee Chilton then fired a volley straight at Pics keeper Dean Coleman, while Reid stepped inside the challenge of Magunda on the edge of the box but saw his shot deflect into the hands of Breeden. Ross Oulton then fired over the bar from Lee Moore’s cut-back on the left.
Within two minutes of the second half getting underway Leamington were ahead courtesy of an unlikely source. Oulton’s corner was flicked on by Moore into the path of Jamie Hood, who displayed a striker’s instinct to steer a first-time drive into the net.
The game was opening up and, after Luke Benbow’s shot was blocked on the edge of the area, the ball was played back into the box for Reid who screwed his first-time shot high and wide.
Ogleby fired wide for Leamington and Benbow’s effort at the other end was steered behind before the hosts were handed a route back into the game. There were a few moments of confusion as the Rushall players argued their case for a penalty after Reid’s run into the box had been halted but, with the assistant on the far side having flagged, it appeared an offside decision had been given. However, after a brief conversation, referee Ian Dudley awarded the spot-kick, which Reid dragged wide.
Rushall skipper Gavin Caines flicked a left-wing free-kick dangerously across goal and Reid almost lifted the ball past Breeden but was denied as the Brakes skipper smothered.
The midfield man atoned for his penalty miss with 16 minutes to play when his thumping header from Heath’s pinpoint left-wing cross levelled the scores.
Jack Edwards almost put Brakes back in front, his header from Moore’s right-wing cross grazing the top of the bar.
Along with Magunda, Edwards came in for some rough treatment during the course of the game, but it was his marauding run that set up the free-kick with nine minutes remaining from which Moore curled in Leamington’s second.
But just when it looked like Brakes might see out time, Rushall stormed back to level for a second time, substitute Nick Wright heading another left-wing cross past Breeden with four minutes to go.
Paul Holleran introduced Ben Mackey and James Husband before extra-time began and it was from the latter’s corner that Edwards saw a header deflected behind.
Wright latched on to a flick-on to fire a low volley straight at Breeden, while Hood was forced to head away from goal as Rushall continued where they had left off in normal time.
However, they were rocked back on their heels again when Mackey struck Leamington’s third goal two minutes before the end of the first period of extra-time, steering in Ogleby’s free-kick from close range.
Perhaps unsurprisingly given the amount of effort put in by both sides, the final 15 minutes saw few opportunities for either side.
Mackey drove wide after latching on to a ball down the right, while Rushall were frustrated in their attempts to drag themselves level again.
Rushall Olympic: Dean Coleman, Aris Christophorou, Daniel Wilkinson (Nick Wright, 64), Zak Martin, Jack Duggan, Gavin Caines, Jake Heath, Carl Palmer (Michael Townsend, 109), Luke Benbow (Colin Smith, 106), Kris Taylor, Alex Reid. Subs not used: Kyle Delaney, Ricardo Dudley.
Brakes: Tony Breeden , James Fry, Richard Taundry, Joe Magunda, Jamie Hood, Jamie Tank, Ross Oulton (Ben Mackey, 88), Jack Edwards, Rob Ogleby, Lee Chilton, Lee Moore(James Husband, 90). Subs not used: Reece Mitchell, Eddie Caviezel-Cox.