A coolly taken Jack Edwards goal earned Leamington a place in the last 16 of the FA Trophy on a wet, windswept evening at the Phillips 66 Community Stadium, writes Paul Okey.
Persistent rain in the lead-up to the match had forced a precautionary afternoon pitch inspection. However, despite heavy rain continuing to fall through to kick-off, the surface held up well, with those who braved the elements, including a noisy pocket of support from Kingstonian, treated to an entertaining encounter.
Paul Holleran brought David Bremang in for his debut after the loan signing was forced to sit out Saturday’s 1-1 draw through suspension and the Coventry City striker soon caught the eye with his clever link-up play.
Callum Maycock combined with Bremang in the fifth minute, running at a retreating backline with purpose and only a nudge in the back prevented him from opening the scoring, the off-balance loanee sliding the ball wide.
A Stephan Morley free-kick from a dangerous position went straight out as both sides struggled to adapt to the wind and the home left-back went into the book soon after for a crude challenge on Gus Sow.
It took until the 22nd minute for Kingstonian to fashion their first shot, Fabio Camacho-Saraiva flashing an effort across the face of Jake Weaver’s goal from distance and two minutes later, a Calum Davies strike was straight at the home number one.
There was little between the sides but the defining moment of the match came just past the half-hour mark.
Bremang did well to nick the ball off a hesitant Kenny Beaney just outside the Kingstonian box and he was quickly involved again, slipping in Edwards who slotted the ball past Rob Tolfrey from eight yards out.
A superb covering header from Oliver Cook then denied Edwards what looked like a quickfire second.
Hayden Bird’s side looked to respond and Thomas Kavangh picked up the loose ball after Weaver spilled a Davies shot from distance. However, forced wide by the home number one, he could only stand the ball back into the six-yard box where James Mace was able to clear the danger.
As the half came to a close, Brakes enjoyed their first period of control, with Maycock and Kaiman Anderson both getting shots away and Tolfrey positioning himself perfectly for a powerfully struck Morley free-kick from range.
The visitors were then caught dithering in possession on the half-way line presenting Brakes with a two-on-two. Bremang’s direct running took him past his marker and despite being held up by Tolfrey, he worked space for a shot, beating the out-of-position keeper only to see Cook produce a superb goalline clearance.
Neither side seemed too keen to emerge for the second half but when they did eventually return to the pitch it was Brakes, now playing into the strong wind, who had the better of proceedings.
Edwards clipped a shot over after being teed up by Anderson and a Morley cross-shot fizzed across the face of goal, clipping the far post on its way out of play.
Weaver had to be at his best to keep out Camacho-Saraiva’s sweetly struck free-kick as the ball arrowed towards the top corner but it proved a rare moment of anxiety for the home side, who were keeping a tight rein on the visitors’ lightweight attack.
Morley was waving his arms in frustration after no one was able to apply the finishing tough to his fizzing free-kick and Edwards was denied a fine second by the fist of Tolfrey after orchestrating a swift counter.
Bremang got his bearings all wrong after Brakes again fashioned a neat move and despite injury time ticking over into seven minutes, there was little danger of Leamington conceding a second successive late equaliser as they intelligently ran down the clock in the Kingstonian half.
Brakes now await the winners of the Bath City v Concord tie, with their replay having fallen foul of the weather on Tuesday night.