30th March 2019
UHL Hellenic League
Brackley Town Saints (2) Fairford Town (1)
Saints: Worby, Green, Middleton, Brock, Godfrey, Ward , Ball (G), Watts, Knight, Hammond, Kille (Swann 89).
Subs not used – Baldwin, Thompson, Haley, Ireland
This was a game that was all about getting the job done and Saints did just that with a deserved victory which keeps themin third place in this intriguing run in to the end of the season. In fairness it was a fairly regulation victory, with a couple of hairy moments but on the whole Saints were in control.
In his programme notes manager Gordon Kille talked of how many teams over the season have targeted the Saints midfield, and particularly James Watts, with overzealous tackling and appealed for more protection from the referee. Within 60 seconds of the kick off Watts was taken out by a poor challenge, followed a few minutes later by knee high challenge on James Hammond.
Fairford were certainly up for the battle, and in the first 10 minutes they dominated possession and had Saints pressed back in their own half. Even so Saints gradually eased themselves into the driving seat and there were encouraging signs when good interplay led to chances for James Watts and then Charlie Kille whose excellent touch in the box led to a good pull back that was desperately cleared by the Fairford defence.
Fairford were very much in the game and hit the bar on 29minutes when a long goal kick was headed on and skilfully hooked goal wards by Dan Bailey with Ali Worby beaten.
Saints were roused and on 32 minutes a sweet move involving Kille and Ryan Knight saw the latter clip the ball into the far post where George Ball rose high to head downwards and past the keeper into the corner of the net.
Fairford had a good chance on 36 minutes to square matters when a slip at the back let in Dan Gudger one on one with Worby who saved with his feet. Saints replied with Worby distributing quickly to Harry Brock who fed infield to Watts who played an inch perfect pass to Ball out on the right. Ballcut inside and hit a shot which was tipped over the bar by Ben Mitchell in the Fairford goal. From the resulting corner James Watts swung the ball in at speed and despite a deflection off of the defender Kille was able to bundle the ball over the line to double the Saints advantage.
Saints nearly added a third in first half stoppage time when Hammond broke skilfully into the box on the right and from the by-line crossed back to Ryan Knight whose shot was hooked off the line.
No changes at half time and Saints would be looking for the third goal which would seal the game. However on 48 minutes a misplaced defensive header led to Danny Gudger nipping in behind and accurately shooting past Worby to reduce the arrears.
Strangely rather than pressing Saints and pushing for an equaliser Fairford seemed content to sit deep and look to break quickly when the opportunity presented itself. Saints were content to knock the ball around, and there followed 20 minutes or so where Saints dominated possession. Fairford did create a couple of moments of panic in the Saints defence not least of all when Curtis Green and Ali Worby hesitated on the edge of the Saints box. Gudger nipped between them and there were loud shouts for a penalty as Worby and Gudger collided. Unlike earlier in the week this time the referee found in Saints favour and gave them the free kick. Not long after Fairford’s Ben Lodge found some space behind Harry Brock but his shot was pulled the wrong side of the post.
As Fairford began to tire Saints began to find space and create opportunities. On 82 minutes Hammond had a skilful run which was not matched by the shot which was high and wide. A minute later Saints broke rapidly and Hammond showed great pace and squared for Knight whose shot was desperately cleared off the goal line for the second time.
On 90 minutes Worby was forced to tip over the bar and from the resulting corner Saints were able to break at speed leading to Ball playing in Hammond who twisted and turned before shooting. The shot was deflected which almost fooled the keeper but he was able to adjust and stop the ball on the line.
That was the final action of the game. This was a solid performance, and most of all it got the job done. The games continue to come thick and fast with an away match on Tuesday evening against Windsor. More of the same required…..Come on you Saints.