WITTON Albion should not dwell for long on how their run in the FA Trophy has come to an end.

It would make them wince.

Substitute Anthony Dwyer’s swerving strike in the third minute of added time was Leamington’s only shot on target in the entire second-half, but it was one that decided the outcome.

The Brakes could scarcely believe it.

Nor could their guests, who will conclude they’ve missed a chance to reach the competition’s first round for the second time in three seasons.

It may not provide succour on the journey home, but their performance was as good as one that saw them embarrass Buxton seven days earlier.

However their shooting was not.

Manager Carl Macauley admitted as much afterwards but stopped short of criticising his side.

“We’re hurting, but I’m immensely proud of how we played,” he said.

There was frustration too.

Referee Greg Rollason provided the game’s most controversial moment when, with Witton 1-0 up and threatening to double their lead, he showed a yellow card to Leamington goalkeeper Tony Breeden as a punishment for handling outside of his penalty area.

Albion felt it ought to have been red after James Foley had scampered onto Liam Goulding’s chipped pass before attempting to steer the ball past the custodian.

The irony of Breeden becoming a one-man barrier between Witton and a victory later in the afternoon was lost on nobody.

Albion, unchanged from last week despite Rob Hopley’s return to fitness, picked up where they had left off.

They took the lead in the ninth minute when Foley guided Will Jones’ cross, weighted perfectly after the striker swapped passes with Tom Owens, inside the far post.

Northwich Guardian:

James Foley, left, receives congratulations from teammate Danny McKenna after putting Witton Albion in front during their FA Trophy encounter with Leamington. Picture: Karl Brooks Photography

And it was only moments later that Breeden rushed from his box to deny the midfielder a certain second goal.

Leamington steadied themselves, and Colby Bishop was clinical when converting a penalty awarded after River Humphreys wrestled Jack Edwards to the floor.

It lifted the home team, and Connor Taylor dragged a shot wide.

Fortune favoured Witton too when they failed to clear Kieran Dunbar’s corner, and they were relieved that a brief period of pinball ended without any damage.

They dominated the second-half though.

Foley’s pass carved open Leamington’s defence shortly after the restart, only for Owens to curl his shot wide of the far post.

A speculative attempt from Foley dipped too late before Breeden, after a long kick from his opposite number caught his teammates napping, produced a miraculous save to thwart Hopley.

Northwich Guardian:

Rob Hopley is denied by Leamington goalkeeper Tony Breeden's magnificent save at full stretch during a period of pressure applied by Witton Albion after half-time in Saturday's FA Trophy tie. Picture: Karl Brooks Photography

The monologue continued, and he parried another Owens shot before using his fingertips to divert Foley’s diving header onto the crossbar.

He was less assured when Foley’s next effort, direct from a free-kick, squirmed out of his hands and past an upright.

However normal service was resumed when he touched the ball to safety after Owens, with a clear sight of goal, attempted to dribble past him rather than shooting early.

Undeserved it may have been, but there was a perverse inevitability about Leamington’s winner.

Dwyer, allowed to turn and dribble towards goal, couldn’t have placed his shot any better.

Leamington | 4-4-1-1 | Breeden (GK), English, Hood, Mace, Gudger, Dunbar (Obeng 61), Clarke, Flanagan, Taylor, Edwards, Bishop (Dwyer 83) Subs not used Lane, Bowen, Gittings Goal Bishop 31 (penalty) Booked Breeden, Hood (both handball)

Witton | 4-5-1 | Hall (GK), Gardner, Humphreys, Wardle, Devine, McKenna (Wilson 90), Owens, Goulding, Cesaire, Foley, Jones (Hopley 38) Subs not used Booth, Yates, Noone Goal Foley 9 Booked Wardle (foul)

Referee Greg Rollason

Attendance 332