14th August 2019
Emirates FA Cup – Extra Qualifying Round – Replay
Brackley Town Saints (1) Wantage Town (2)
Brackley Town Saints: Matt Crowther, Dan Middleton, Lewis Gabbidon, Dean March (Lewis Middleton 87), Ollie Goddard (c), Sam Hartley, George Ball, Jordan Godfrey, Ryan Knight, James Hammond, Alex Stott.
Subs not used: Ethan Dowse, James Thompson.
Saints were already kicking themselves after dominating the original tie on Saturday, and will have woken up this morning kicking themselves even more after Wantage edged a thrilling replay after coming from behind in a game in which the ascendancy constantly swung between the two sides.
It was a frantic opening. Saints started strongly and Wantage had to defend a couple of early Jordan Godfrey corners, and last ditch defending blocked George Ball who had wriggled free in the Wantage box on 6 minutes. But Wantage also showed early intent with Jack Dunmall delivering a dangerous cross in the seventh minute, and then shortly after his goal bound effort deflected over the bar. Dunmall brilliantly controlled the resultant corner just inside the box, but Matt Crowther was out very quickly able to bravely block. Ryan Markham then floated in a free kick that saw Chris Jackson place his header wide.
Brackley fought back and created a couple of half chances. Ball curled a free kick over the bar before Wantage keeper Charlie McCready acted as sweeper keeper only to find that his clearance fell at the feet of Alex Stott just inside the Wantage half. Stott cleverly shot from distance and McCready was relieved to see it roll harmlessly past the post.
Brackley took the lead on 21 minutes when a Dean March header from a Godfrey corner was blocked on the line. In the resulting melee Ryan Knight was on hand to hook the ball high into the net. Straight from the kick off Knight was singled out by Wantage’s Brad Cox who was rightly booked for a poor challenge.
Throughout the game Saints were guilty of conceding too many soft and silly free kicks around their own penalty area and on 27 minutes one of these led to a magnificent reflex save by Crowther. The initial free kick had been blocked by the wall but the rebound fell to Tom Stanley who hit a fizzing shot destined for the bottom corner but which Crowther tipped round the post. From the corner Wantage were again denied, this time by Ollie Goddard who cleared off the line with Crowther beaten. An even better chance went begging for Wantage from a Dunmall cross when Stanley was free in the box but Crowther somehow tipped his shot onto the bar although I am not sure that he knew too much about it.
Saints were breaking well at times and a good move involving Stott, Hammond and Godfrey saw Ball break into the box but his shot was smothered. Ball was again in the action a few minutes later when he shot wide, although perhaps he should have fed Dan Middleton who had arrived like a steam train on the right side of the box. Just before half time Lewis Gabbidon received a yellow card for a mis-timed sliding tackle.
The second half started with the Saints looking confident on the ball, but after only two minutes hesitation on the edge of their own box saw Saints squander possession. Wantage worked the ball across the penalty area to Stanley who fired the ball over Crowther into the roof of the net. The next 15 minutes saw chances at both ends. On 55 minutes Knight had a shot blocked, the ball fell kindly to Ball but he could not get his shot on target, and 2 minutes later Stott finished a mazy run with a shot that was inches wide of the post. Wantage counter-punched and Jackson saw a header hit the Saints post.
With 20 minutes to go the momentum seemed to be with Saints and a really neat move saw Ball and James Hammond combine through the middle with Hammond squaring the ball to Knight whose clever dummy allowed the ball to run through to Stott who seemed sure to score, but he lifted his shot a whisker over the bar.
Wantage scored the winner on 78 minutes from a corner conceded when Goddard’s back pass went awry. Ryan Markham delivered to the near post and the ball somehow found its way into the net via deflections off of Gabbidon and Crowther.
Saints pushed for an equaliser and deep into stoppage time a long ball found its way deep into the Wantage box which found Lewis Middleton’s head, but his header drifted well wide of the Wantage goal.
Well done to Wantage. They upped their game a lot from Saturday and were a far more threatening team in this replay. Most importantly both teams contributed massively to a fantastically entertaining game. We won’t dwell on the audition for the Great Britain diving team in the last 5 minutes. No need really..!!