13th April 2019
UHL Hellenic League – Premier Division
Brackley Town Saints (2) Brimscombe & Thrupp (1)
Saints: Worby, Middleton, Brock, Baldwin, Ward, Goddard, Ball (G), Watts, Knight, Hammond, Kille (Godfrey 80)
Subs not used: Whitmore, Haley, Swann, Ball (S)
In the words of Barry Davies Interesting…..very interesting!!!
This was a cracking game and a deserved victory for Saints against the team in second place at the start of the day. With the other two teams in the top four failing to pick up points in their games the race for the title is wide open and could go down to the wire.
The early exchanges saw BTFC take the upper hand without really troubling Ali Worby who dealt comfortably with a couple of corners and crosses. At the other end George Ball wriggled free just outside the BTFC box but his shot was wide of the far post. On 18 minutes Saints took the lead with a lovely one touch move down the right wing which resulted in James Watts pulling the ball back to James Hammond whose first time shot was deflected by Ryan Knight past the helpless Ashley Gale in the BTFC goal.
Almost immediately Saints won a corner which was whipped in by Harry Brock causing chaos in the BTFC penalty box. The loose ball came to Knight at a tricky height and he was only able to nod the ball onto the bar. Saints were in the ascendancy and were having good periods of possession. On 33 minutes Hammond broke free down the left, but his cross was too long for Ball arriving at the far post.
Saints were closing in on half time but a really neat piece of forward play by BTFC’s Sam Blackie on 40 minutes saw him hold up the ball on the edge of the box, turn and the fire the ball past Worby and into the bottom corner. Saints were stung, but were immediately back on the attack winning 2 consecutive free kicks just outside the box. From the second Lewis Baldwin delivered a long ball that looked destined for Gale’s hands. Joe Ward challenged, and in the referees opinion it was a fair challenge, and his header fell to Olly Goddard who calmly stroked the ball into the net to restore Saints lead.
That was to be the end of the scoring, but the second half was full of incident, lots of tension and given the circumstances some very good football. Saints were on top and on 50 minutes Hammond played in Charlie Kille whose shot was well blocked. Hammond then played in Knight but his cross shot was saved by Gale who was beginning to be a thorn in the Saints side. In the 57th minute Knight had two one on ones with Gale. The first after a through ball from Hammond saw Knight cut in from the right and shoot low and hard but Gale got down well to save. Thirty seconds later Knight again made a real pest of himself and broke free onto a pass from Harry Brock but again Gale stood firm and saved well.
An outstanding move in the 66th minute saw Watts and Ball combine with Ball bursting into the area only to see his left foot shot hit the post and bounce wide. The ball was re-circulated to Hammond who curled a shot just wide of the post. At this point BTFC were looking ragged and on 64 minutes Gale saved again this time from a Watts shot.
However BTFC rallied and on 79 minutes had a great opportunity to equalise when Blackie headed an inviting cross wide when left free at the far post, and 6 minutes later a further opportunity was spurned when a good move down the left wing saw a great cross spooned over the bar. The game finished with BTFC forcing the issue and winning 2 free kicks on the edge of the Saints area. Worby was required to tip the second over the bar.
So a great team performance by Saints. Solid defensively and looking really fluid when breaking at speed. With 2 games left Saints face the current leaders, Wantage Town, on Tuesday evening knowing that there is all to play for. Another gritty and disciplined performance like today will be required and who knows.