Grandstand finish in the Birmingham FA Senior Cup Final as Leamington FC cap off memorable season with Birmingham Senior Cup win against Wolverhampton Wanderers.
Tony Breeden again proved the hero for Brakes, stepping up to score their first kick in the shootout and then producing a strong hand to keep out Sealy’s fifth effort for Wolves to ensure Paul Holleran’s 400th match in charge of the club ended in silverware.
Stefan Moore and Joe Magunda returned to the line-up in place of Callum Gittings and Darren Pond who dropped to the bench as Brakes returned to action following their play-off final success over Hitchin . The setting was long way from Leamington’s first- round tie at Bedworth and a large away following made themselves heard ahead of kick-off.
However, they were given very little to cheer in a shapeless opening which saw both sides feeling each other out.
A heavy touch from Courtney Baker-Richardson gave away a needless corner which Joe Magunda inadvertently headed towards his own goal before Brakes went down the other end and won a penalty in the 15th minute.
Ahmed Obeng attacked the Wolves back line and his trickery proved too much for the combination of Hakeem Odoffin and Ryan Leak, with Odoffin’s stray leg sending him tumbling. Rob Thompson-Brown, fresh from his important spot-kick in the play-off final, again made no mistake, sending keeper Jack Ruddy the wrong way from the spot.
The goal was just what the game needed and Wolves had an excellent chance to level shortly after when Regan Upton got free from a Nicu Carnat corner but his firm header was narrowly wide of the far post. A free-kick from Ryan Rainey landed on the top of the net, while more Obeng trickery in the Wolverhampton box ended with a tame shot as the game swung from end to end.
Moore was also off target with a shot from distance, while Thompson-Brown also tried his luck as Brakes began to get a stranglehold of the tie. A hit and hope cross from Connor Gudger then almost brought about a second for the visitors, with Baker-Richardson watching the high ball on to his boot and guiding it narrowly past Ruddy’s far post from an acute angle.
A Carnat free-kick shaped well and had Tony Breeden anxiously watching it pass by the angle and Thompson-Brown brought an encouraging first half to a close for Brakes with a long-range free-kick which had the sting taken out of it by the Wolves wall.
Wolverhampton Wanderers introduced Andrew Sealy for Odoffin at the start of the second half and the substitute had an early opportunity after Breeden parried Carnat’s shot but Gudger was in quickly to block his follow up eight yards out.
Bradley Reid was disappointed not to work Breeden with an effort from the edge of the area and in a breathless opening to the second half, Ruddy was bailed out by a defender after he could only parry a Baker-Richardson header.
Jack Edwards then saw a header come back off the post after being picked out by Gudger. Play quickly switched to the other end and a strong foot from Breeden diverted Rainey’s dangerous cross away from goal while a fierce strike from Reid was always too high to trouble the Leamington skipper.
Wolverhampton Wanderers started to find more space, Paul Holleran introduced fresh legs in the shape of Pond and Richard Batchelor in place of Magunda and Moore and Batchelor was inches away from a dream introduction following a cleverly worked Brakes free-kick.
With everyone expecting a first-time cross, Thompson-Brown played it back to Taundry and the change of angle caught the Wolves backline out but the delivery was just beyond the lunges of both Edwards and Batchelor at the far post.
Having been so close to a second, Leamington then found themselves back level when Carnat did well to work his way to the byeline and cut a cross back for Sealy who rifled a shot under the legs of Breeden from eight yards.
Reid was afforded acres of space in the Leamington box as the game ticked into the final ten minutes but produced a tired-looking shot as three defenders belatedly closed him down.
A Gudger cross-shot then drifted past the far post after good work from Obeng on the left flank. With four minutes of added time signalled, Sealy had the final opportunity of the game but his drive was well blocked by Gudger to ensure the match went to penalties.
Breeden, Thompson-Brown, Pond, Taundry and Edwards made no mistake from the spot and while Allan, Rainey, McKenna and Carnat were equal to the task for Wolves, the pressure proved too much for Sealy who saw Breeden guess right to spark jubilant scenes in front of the large away following and a first Birmingham Senior Cup success for Leamington since 1972.
Wolverhampton Wanderers: Jack Ruddy, Hakeem Odoffinm (Andrew Sealy, 46), Ben O’Hanlon, Conor Levington(Dan McKenna, 54), Regan Upton, Ryan Leak, Nicu Carnat, Ryan Rainey, Bradley Reid, Joe Delacoe (Jordan Allan, 85), Anthony Breslin. Subs not used: Cameron John, Harry Beasley.
Leamington FC: Tony Breeden, Richard Taundry, Connor Gudger, Joe Magunda (Darren Pond, 59), Jamie Hood, James Mace, Courtney Baker-Richardson (Kurtis Revan, 83), Jack Edwards, Stefan Moore (Richard Batchelor, 63), Rob Thompson-Brown, Ahmed Obeng, Subs not used: Tom James,, Ryan Quinn.
Match report produced by Paul Okey
Photos provided by County Cup partner Brixon Photography
We would like to take this opportunity to congratulate Leamington FC on winning the Birmingham FA Senior Cup Final and Wolverhampton Wanderers on being cup finalist, in what was a memorial Senior Cup Final. Thank you to Wolverhampton Wanderers for hosting the 2017 Senior Cup Final at Molineux stadium.