The visit of former Football league club Hartlepool proved a bit of an anti-climax as a biting, swirling wind and incessant rain made for a thoroughly unpleasant afternoon at the Phillips 66 Community Stadium, writes Paul Okey.
Both sides showed admirable endeavour but there was very little to warm the hands of the 334 hardy souls who had braved the conditions, with one piece of magic from the Conference National visitors proving enough to send them through to the second round of the FA Trophy.
Jack Edwards produced a wayward shot in the right minute before the visitors, playing their first match under the stewardship of new boss Richard Money, hit the top of the crossbar after Brakes failed to deal with a corner.
A good move down the left from Hartlepool then ended with Tony Breeden producing a fine point-blank save to keep out a well-struck shot from Marcus Dinanga.
The strength of the wind was then illustrated when a kick out of the hands from Breeden ran through to the Hartlepool area, keeper Scott Loach out bravely to claim under pressure from a lunging Colby Bishop.
Dinanga’s shot from distance was comfortable for Breeden while it needed a desperate block from James Mace to keep out a fierce strike from Paddy McLaughlin.
Breeden was called into action again two minutes before the interval, saving with his feet at his near post from Paddy McLaughlin. Dinanga then dragged the loose ball just across the face of goal.
The second half proved a more open affair and it was the home side who started the brighter, Bishop having a goalbound shot blocked by Carl Magnay and then getting on the end of an inviting cross from Callum Gittings only to be penalised for a push.
The deadlock was broken in the 64th minute and it came with Leamington pressing.
With home players committed forward, Nicky Featherstone picked up possession for Pools and slipped a clever pass to Ryan Donaldson just inside his own half. The midfielder advanced at pace at a scrambling Leamington defence and outpaced two defenders on the edge of the box before calmly slipping the ball past the advancing Breeden.
It was a goal worthy of winning any game but Brakes had a gilt-edged chance to restore parity six minutes later.
A Reece Flanagan shot was blocked and Jack Edwards latched on to the loose ball, dinking it over the defence for Kieran Dunbar. The midfielder’s first touch sent the ball into the air and despite having time to set himself he lashed his volley wildly over the bar from no more than ten yards out.
As Dunbar pulled his shirt over his head, the belief seemed to drain out of the home side and it was Hartlepool who came closest to adding to their tally as the game meandered to a conclusion.
On the stretch, Dinanga was only able to bring Niko Muir’s cross down for Breeden to claim, while the home keeper was relieved to see Muir shoot tamely across the face of goal after his weak clearance left the striker with a clear run on goal.
It mattered little, however, as the visitors comfortably saw out the game, with the final whistle greeted with equal enthusiasm by both sets of fans as they rushed off in search of a heating source.
Brakes: Tony Breeden, Junior English, Connor Gudger (James Bowen, 83), Reece Flanagan, Jack Lane, James Mace, Kieran Dunbar, Callum Gittings, Colby Bishop, Jack Edwards (Ahmed Obeng, 78), Connor Taylor (Anthony Dwyer, 77). Subs not used: Joe Clarke, Jamie Hood.
Hartlepool: Scott Loach, Kenton Richardson, Harvey Rodgers, Carl Magnay, Mark Kitching, Ryan Donaldson, Nicky Featherstone, Paddy McLaughlin, Josh Hawkes (Luke James, 67) Niko Muir, Marcus Dinanga (Tyrone O’Neill, 78). Subs not used: Ryan Catterick, Brook Miller, Luka Murphy.