It has been 210 days since Leamington FC last took to the pitch for a competitive match; much has changed since the Brakes succumbed to a 3-0 defeat against Guiseley in March. The coronavirus has since swept the country, triggering social upheaval and the curtailment of the 2019/20 National League North campaign.
The Brakes return to action this afternoon, and will host Banbury United in the Emirates FA Cup at the Community Stadium. Paul Holleran’s side will be the favourites to progress to the third qualifying round, although Leamington’s Southern League Central opponents will be hoping to spring an upset following their 2-0 win over Hednesford Town earlier this week.
This afternoon’s FA Cup clash marks the start of the Brakes’ 2020/21 campaign, bookending a preseason schedule that saw Leamington secure wins over Racing Club Warwick, Walsall, Alvechurch and Worcester Raiders.
Founded in 1939, Banbury United currently play in the seventh tier of English football. United currently sit 10th after three matches, having secured a win, draw and loss in their opening fixtures. The Puritans are managed by Andy Whing, a Coventry City academy graduate. Whing scored the Sky Blues’ last goal at Highfield Road in their 6-2 flattening of Derby County in April 2005.
369 supporters were in attendance for Banbury’s FA Cup victory last month
Banbury beat lower league outfit Carlton United in the previous round, progressing to the second qualifying courtesy of a 1-0 win at the Banbury Plant Hire Community Stadium. Owing to Banbury’s status in the non-league pyramid, 369 supporters were in attendance for Banbury’s FA Cup victory last month.
The Brakes faced United last season, with Jordan Murphy, James Mace and Josh March scoring the goals that saw Leamington secure victory at the Community Stadium.
Following this afternoon’s FA Cup fixture, the Brakes will begin their league campaign on Tuesday evening – when they will host fellow National League North outfit Boston United. If Leamington secure victory against Banbury, Paul Holleran’s side will progress to the third qualifying round of the FA Cup – with ties due to be played on Tuesday 13 October.