Leighton Town are on the road to Wembley after a routine 3-1 victory over nine-man Brimscombe and Thrupp to progress in the FA Vase.
As one of the top-flight sides in the competition, boss Scott Reynolds believes the Vase is a competition Town should be taking seriously this season as he seeks out silverware for the Bell Close trophy cabinet.
But it would take a second half comeback for the Reds to progress, falling behind to an Ed Major goal in the first half.
Major though would receive his marching orders in the second half, as would Ashley Calwell as the visitors capitulated, allowing goals from Lorrel Smith, Alex O’Brien and Max Risby to send Town through.
The first half was an even affair with Town playing pockets of good football without finding an end product.
After Dom Marsala for Leighton and Sam Blackie for Brimscombe went close, the ever lively Smith dispossessed Turner on the half hour before shooting from an acute angle just past the post.
As the half progressed some fine interplay between the influential O’Brien and Smith created a gilt edged chance for Bryant but he failed to convert when well placed. Against the run of play Brimscombe took the lead in the 34th minute as Major netted from close range after good work from Jack Smith.
Brimscombe thought they’d doubled their advantage before the break when Tom Wyant’s heroic save rebounded to Kyle Pitts, but he was offside.
Town started the second half with real intent and there was much more urgency, tempo and intensity in their play, and within 11 minutes of the restart, they were ahead.
After excellent work by new signing Dave Murphy, O’Brien fed a disguised pass into Smith who finished with aplomb off the post in the 50th minute.
Town now took control of the game and two minutes later they were ahead as Alex O’Brien’s fierce 25 yard volley crashed into the top corner, with Skyers in the Brimscombe goal, a mere spectator.
Brimscombe were always in the game and only resolute defending by the impressive Hatch, Guiney, Hall and Murphy kept the Gloucester men at bay.
Leighton’s cause was given a real boost in the 68th minute when Major received a straight red card for a dangerous tackle on Pursey.
With skipper Marsala struggling with an injury Copson replaced him in the 70th minute freeing Hall to play further forward and it was he who set up Smith with another excellent chance but he fired over under pressure from Greenhough.
As the game entered the last 10 minutes Brimscombe continued to cause Town problems.
A foul by Murphy in the 85th minute provided Brimscombe with a great opportunity on the edge of Town’s penalty area.
Pitt’s curling free-kick however, brushed the top of the bar and Town breathed again.
In the 90th minute Brimscombe’s Ashley Calwell also received a red card after head-butting Hatch but the nine Brimscombe players bravely battled on laying siege to the Town goal.
Town, however, remained strong and sealed the victory with a well taken goal by substitute Risby following an excellent break and pass by Smith in the 99th minute.
This was an exciting game between two evenly matched teams and Town can take great confidence from this win, as they continue to rebuild the club both on and off the field of play.
Town now host local rivals Leverstock Green in the next round of the FA Vase on Saturday September 23.