9th November 2019
A freezing cold morning and dense fog greeted us at Croughton for our home match with Oldbury United who sit one place above us in the league. Upon arrival it was clear that Oldbury are a very big physical looking side which could prove a very tough challenge.
At kick-off Brackley Town looked good, moving the ball quick around the pitch and providing some good attacking opportunities. Oldbury seemed to send most attacks through one good player and it soon became apparent that they were going to be a very tough physical side. This was apparent after 15 minutes when after receiving the ball Lucus Barber was fouled heavily, which minutes later saw him subbed off.
Brackley were not deterred and tried to match Oldbury with some good physical challenging of their own, and minutes later Kai Bailey took the ball into the left hand side of the box near the by-line, and after beating two defenders slammed the ball across the front of goal and into the inside of the side netting. Brackley lead 1-0.
Oldbury looked good on the break and Brackley Town started to give them too much time, space and respect on the ball, failing to stop any counter attacks being made. It wasn't long before Oldbury made swift progress through midfield and moved the ball quickly along the edge of the Brackley 18-yard box and unchallenged, released a powerful shot, which was met by the hands of the keeper but being unable to hold it deflected into the net. The score was 1-1.
The match continued to increase in the physical challenges made on Brackley, with fouls on Tobie Bullivant who was making a real impact on the left wing, and Archie Hamp who was proving to be invaluable in defence at preventing the Oldbury attack. The referee seemed to be letting play continue though rather than giving the free kicks.
Brackleys luck did change on the stroke of half time - again down to a referee decision. It appeared that a headed ball went wide from a Brackley player, but the assumed goal kick was given as a corner. Alex Pestana whipped the ball in only for it to be cleared out to the edge of the box where a waiting Archie Hamp swung high right footed to smash the ball with a clean powerful volley back across the box into the corner of the goal. 2-1 Brackley and surely a contender for goal of the season with such a sensational finish. The whistle blew for half time and the team retreated to the changing room out of the cold for their team talk.
It was a good first half for Brackley, but they were tasked with one main objective for the next 40 minutes - do not concede! We needed to get tighter to the opposition and intercept their play and regain possession.
Oldbury came out even stronger and took the match to Brackley - physical challenges from both sides were now stopping play. It was good to see Brackley making strong challenges but this half it was resulting in giving away many free kicks. Oldbury seemed relentless in their counter attacking, but Brackley continued to get back behind the ball to deny most attacks, although they started to draw a few great saves from keeper James Baker. The clock ticked past the 40 minute mark and it looked like Brackley Town were going to come away with the three points, when after 4 minutes into stoppage time, an Oldbury United shot which was going wide was handled in the box. Could this be an unbelievable end to the match? Penalty awarded for handball! Silence fell as the Oldbury player stepped up to face James Baker one-to-one. But seconds later the ball was struck high and powerful over the bar! Brackley were certain to win and moments later the final whistle blew 2-1 to Brackley.
It was a stronger performance by Brackley Town and a deserved win from a side that looked so much more of a team than their opponents. Their half-time task to not concede was completed successfully, albeit by the narrowest of margins! Well done - another three points that sees us moving up the table.