Dreams of cup glory, in FA knockout competitions at least, will have to wait for another day as Brakes slipped out of the Trophy at the first hurdle on a frustrating afternoon at Vanarama Conference North counterparts Bradford Park Avenue.
A third goal of the season for captain Stephan Morley was the only high point as Jamie Tank picked up a straight red card on his 21st birthday to give Paul Holleran’s men a mountain to climb shortly after going two goals down.
Park Avenue’s Horsfall Stadium has not been a happy place to visit for Leamington and sadly this was to continue on an afternoon when little went their way.
Neither team was able to take control early on but the hosts were still able to take a sixth-minute lead, Lamin Colley scrambling the ball home from close range after Leamington failed to clear a long throw into their penalty area.
James Fry fired over from long range and Danny Newton also saw a couple of efforts saved during the half as Leamington enjoyed the bulk of possession without taking advantage of it.
Lee Moore went close to an equaliser early in the second half but saw his shot saved by Avenue keeper John Danby, while Joe Colbeck blasted an effort high over the bar with team-mates better placed in the box.
Newton then set up Lee Chilton for a deflected shot that earned Brakes a fruitless corner, before Danny Frost drew a save from Connal Trueman as the hosts broke clear. He was more clinical in the next attack, however, wrongfooting the young keeper to double Bradford’s lead.
Brakes’ task became even harder two minutes later when Tank saw red for bringing down Colley as he raced through on goal. Colbeck fired the resulting free-kick over the bar.
Despite this, Leamington clawed a goal back in the 72nd minute, Morley finding the net from the edge of the box with a well-struck shot through a crowd of players.
Unfortunately, a revival was not forthcoming despite Brakes’ best efforts, Bradford substitute Richard Marshall forcing a good save from Trueman down at his near post before Colbeck headed home a cross inside the final ten minutes to make the game safe for the hosts.
Bradford Park Avenue: John Danby, Chris Howarth, George Smith, Jack Rea, Ryan Qualter, Niall Heaton, Joe Colbeck, Jamie Price , Chib Chilaka (Brad Barraclough, 75), Lamin Colley (Richard Marshall, 77), Danny Frost (Sam Patterson, 90). Subs not used: Priestly, Paul Walker.
Brakes: Connal Trueman, James Fry, Stephan Morley, Joe Magunda (Luke Connolly, 89), Jamie Tank, Stuart Pierpoint, Matt Dodd (James Mace, 70), Jack Edwards, Danny Newton, Lee Moore (Stefan Moore, 70), Lee Chilton. Subs not used: Aron Wint, Liam Maher.