22nd April 2019
UHL Hellenic League – Premier Division
Brackley Town Saints (4) Lydney (0)
Saints: Worby, Middleton, Brock, Baldwin (Carter 82), Goddard, Ward, Ball (G) (Ball S 75), Watts, Knight, Hammond (Godfrey 63), Kille
Subs not used: Swann, Whitmore
A victory to secure a fantastic 3rd place finish was the task facing Saints on a glorious sunny day with St James Park looking excellent. Saints did not hang about and took the lead on 4 minutes when a Lewis Baldwin free kick was headed down by Ollie Goddard to Ryan Knight who swivelled and struck his 25th goal of the season. Saints nearly repeated the trick on 14 minutes this time Goddard seized on a loose ball after a corner and struck his left foot shot just wide of the post.
On 17 minutes Knight played in James Hammond whose cross shot was easily saved by the keeper. Lydney had been hanging on in there and it was not until 20 minutes that they had their first attempt on goal when Lewis Thompson headed just wide. However Saints were in the ascendancy and a 30 yard screamer from George Ball was well saved by the Lydney keeper. Lydney were conceding too many free kicks in and around their box and another Baldwin free kick found its way to Goddard who headed down for Knight yet again but this time a desperate last ditch tackle saw the ball hooked off of the strikers toes. On 30 minutes Lydney had their closest chance of the half when a well work free kick saw the ball flicked just wide of Ali Worby’s upright.
On 35 minutes Saints doubled their lead. A good passing move ended with Baldwin splitting the defence with a pinpoint pass to George Ball whose excellent cross was tapped home by Knight for his second goal. Lydney immediately created 2 good scoring opportunities with headers that came very close and there were loud howls for a penalty kick when Goddard challenged Ross Gabriel in the box. The referee saw no issue with the tackle.
The start to the second half was sluggish, but the final 30 minutes was packed with incident. Firstly Lydney had a great chance to peg a goal back when Goddard misjudged a long hopeful ball down the line. Ward and Middleton managed to block Lydney shots and Worby was really brave to get down and collect the loose ball at the feet of Gabriel. Lydney were soon to regret not taking advantage when on 68 minutes Knight completed his hat trick calmly slotting past the Lydney keeper when finding himself one on one. A minute later Charlie Kille had the opportunity to extend the Saints lead but his volley was straight at the keeper, but on 74 minutes Ball finished neatly as Saints took advantage of Lydney committing more and more players up field.
As Saints took their foot off the gas a little Lydney created a couple of half chances and the unfortunate Gabriel kneed a good chance wide and then shot just wide from the edge of the box. James Watts was finding plenty of space as Lydney tired and one marauding run saw him fire just wide of the post. Back at the other end Worby saved well from a Gabriel header.
So Saints did more than enough to secure an absolutely fantastic 3rd place finish. Clearly the league table does not lie but it does not tell the whole story. This has been a fantastic year to watch the Saints. Overall a young side, but with a handful of experienced players able to channel and encourage the youthful exuberance, and on many many occasions the football played has been a delight to watch. The season has also brought the Saints their first FA Cup victory and a closely contested County Cup Semi-Final against Brackley Town FC in front of a bumper crowd at St James Park.
Well done to all of the players for a hugely entertaining season. You have ruffled a few feathers along the way but more importantly you have played in a manner that has produced much respect across the league.