Chester 0-0 Brackley Town 22/4/19
Impressive away performance sets up last day finale
Impressive Saints were on top throughout a match packed with incident and of high excitement for a large Bank Holiday crowd and had everything but a goal.
Chester rarely threatened to score, their best chance coming in added time when George Green brought a sharp save from Danny Lewis, the only time Brackley’s keeper was called into serious action all afternoon.
At the other end Grant Shenton was kept busy throughout as Brackley were always on the front foot, creating numerous chances to take the lead.
Lee Ndlovu was thwarted twice one-on-one by the keeper who had to be in top form to tip over Gaz Dean’s header from a Shane Byrne corner.
The referee’s decision on 16 minutes to award only an indirect free-kick to the visitors 6 yards from goal left everyone else in the stadium mystified. With Chester’s defenders lined up along the goal-line, Brackley found the net with the first attempt only for it to be ruled out as it was deemed to be taken too quickly and it was blocked at the second attempt.
But Brackley won a 42nd minute penalty as Shep Murombedzi was bundled over. Shane Byrne had converted his previous four penalties but this time fired over sending the sides in level at the break.
Kevin Wilkin’s side continued to dominate the second half, creating good chances but unable to apply the finishing touch as time finally ran out. The point keeps Saints in third place with one game remaining. Only Spennymoor can overhaul them and a win at St James Park against already-relegated FC United of Manchester on Saturday will secure the third place finish that sets up a home game in the play-off semi-finals.
“It was a fantastic performance this afternoon, the only thing lacking was the goal,” Wilkin said. “I can’t ask any more from the players. We got into numerous good situations, one-on-ones and good opportunities when we really should score but that is the only disappointing aspect of the afternoon. Chester are not so far away in the league but we’ve come here and dominated the game. I can’t fault the attitude, commitment and quality at times and that’s encouraging of course. We just need to find that cutting edge in front of goal and when we do that we are a match for any team at this level.”
Brackley Town: Lewis, Murombedzi, G.Walker, Byrne, Dean, Hall, Lowe, Armson, Ndlovu, Baker (Fairlamb 71), A.Walker (Sterling-James 85). Subs unused: Jackson, Myles, Nti.
Chester: Shenton, Jackson, Waters, Roberts, Howson, Grand, Crawford (Green 63), Burton, Waring, Murray (Dudley 63), Mahon (McKenna 63). Subs unused: Thomson, McAllister.
Referee: Elliott Swallow Assistants: Martin Beard and Ruebyn Ricardo