Saturday 1st February

Brackley Town u16's had a 200 mile round trip with just 12 players this weekend to play Priory Celtic Youth in Nottingham on a good 3G surface. The conditions weren't great what with the wind & the sun really low but this 3G surface could suit us. Our game plan was to get the ball down & play quick passing football & Brackley didn't disappoint especially 1st half. On paper Priory Celtic were favourites as they are much higher in the table, scored more goals & conceded less than we have so far this season.

Brackley had the better of it in the 1st half although down to just 11 men within the first 10 mins as one of our players had to  be withdrawn due to illness. Brackley however were enjoying the 3G surface & their passing football was really good to watch. We were playing out from the back through the thirds & asking questions of Priory Celtic all over the park. We were controlled on the ball, the team shape was there for all to see. Brackley were enjoying themselves, growing in confidence & should of gone in front from a superb cross from the right hand side as it split their defence wide open, all it needed was a touch as it flashed past 3 of our players & agonisingly wide for a goal kick. Brackley were working hard & giving Priory Celtic no time on the ball, we rushed & pressed them, we unsettled them. Priory did have a couple of efforts on goal but all from distance & not really troubling our keeper. Brackley had a corner late on in the 1st half, Lucas Barber fizzed one in but again we couldnt get a touch on it as it flashed across the six yard box & away to safety. HT 0-0

Could we maintain the way we were playing in the 2nd half, could we keep up the intensity & could we exploit the space we had found in the final third. We were now playing with the wind behind us & perhaps that contributed to our misplaced final pass to break the deadlock. Nothing would stick for us as time & time again the ball in behind just ran away. It was noted Priory had now changed their game plan, they had now reverted to the long ball game, the direct style of football, this was causing us problems with the wind holding the ball up & swerving in the air we needed to drop off as a team but time & time again we didn't really adapt to the problem. We had another good chance midway through the 2nd half when Issac Locke came closest from a free kick 25 yards out, his cross became a shot as the wind took it & it very nearly caught the keeper out as he managed to push it over the bar & away to safety. Their goal came from a bit of bad luck for us as one of their players picked the ball up & just drove at us, Keelan Cronin read the danger & did really well chasing him down, forcing him wider & wider towards the corner flag when suddenly he felt his hamstring go & stopped, from a wide position he crossed a superb ball into the far post & it was met with precision to nod a decisive winner. Brackley had worked so hard & deserved something out of the game but that is how cruel this game can be sometimes. We continued to battle hard for the remainder of the game but unfortunately we couldn't find the equaliser. 

What can I say, what a difference from last week such a transformation, its like chalk & cheese but a great game played by all. 

We can take alot away from today but we need to be more consistent, more creative in the final third & definitely more positive in front of goal.