LEAMINGTON bid to put themselves in the hat for the last 32 of the FA Trophy tonight, and continue their red-hot form, when taking on Southern League Premier Central outfit St Ives Town in the second round.
The Brakes and the Saints do battle at the Community Stadium knowing a trip to National League opposition in Wrexham is on the cards for the winner, with the third-round tie set to take place this Saturday.
Paul Holleran’s troops are now unbeaten following their 3-1 away win at Bradford Park Avenue, meaning Leamington will sit just a point outside the National League North play-offs on Christmas Day – occupying eighth position with 17 points accumulated from their 11 fixtures to date.
A double by the league’s player of the month for November – Sam Osborne – inspired the Brakes to all three points at the Horsfall Stadium, falling either side of Simeon Maye’s goal just before the half-time whistle.
With just one change to the team in West Yorkshire, loanee Taylor Allen taking the place of Danny Waldron, Leamington made the dream start when Osborne whipped a shot around a defender and beat goalkeeper Dan Atkinson to find the net on nine minutes.
The visitors continued to dominate the proceedings against mid-table Bradford, eventually doubling their lead when Lance Smith laid the ball on for Maye to power through the home defence and fire home in stoppage time.
Bradford PA had more of a say during the second half in hope of rescuing salvation, something which they gave themselves a real opportunity of doing when Brad Dockerty beat Jake Weaver – who had been imperious up to that point – to the ball before touching into the net with 22 minutes to play.
Osborne soon allayed any fears that Leamington’s three-point haul was under threat, being played through by Smith before thrashing an unstoppable shot into the corner that gave Atkinson no chance.
Further chances for Smith, who rounded the goalkeeper before seeing his shot hacked off the goal-line, and Kyle Morrison with an audacious overhead kick attempt, were both unlucky not to put the rubber seal on the win – prior to a straight red card for the hosts’ Jake Hibbs in stoppage time.
Leamington’s fourth league victory of the campaign adds to the ever-increasing feel-good factor surrounding the club right now, as they prepare to take on a side that they last met in the division below back in 2016/17.
The last meeting, in fact, ended with the Brakes on the winning side thanks to Ahmed Obeng and Courtney Baker-Richardson goals – with the two sides only ever meeting twice in their history.
With St Ives’ season suspended due to the current inactivity of football at Step Three and below, Ricky Marheineke’s side have not played a competitive fixture since Halloween – a 1-1 draw with Stafford Rangers that eventually saw Town progress 4-1 on penalties in the first round of the Trophy – and sit 11th in the Southern League Premier Central with three wins from their six matches.