7th September 2019
Hellenic League – Premier Division
Brimscombe & Thrupp (1) Brackley Town Saints (4)
Saints: Crowther, Middleton (D), Brock, March (McConnell 80), Goddard (Harris 84), Hartley, Gabbidon, Hammond (J), Knight, Hammond (M), Stott (Middleton L 67)
Sub not used - Jacucha
A thoroughly entertaining game this and although both teams had their moments Saints were generally in the ascendancy after a tricky first 20 minutes. The foundation was a solid defensive display and as the confidence grew Saints were solid in possession and dangerous on the break.
As early as the 2nd minute James Campbell came close for Brimscombe with a 30 yard strike that drifted just wide. Saints were struggling to find any early rhythm and it took 11 minutes for them to create on offensive opportunity when Dean March looped a header from a corner onto the top of the bar. Defensively Saints were looking secure with Sam Hartley and Ollie Goddard looking comfortable under the high ball, although on 18 minutes March was required to make a great block on the edge of the 6 yard box to thwart Brimscombe. Four minutes later Matt Crowther in the Brackley goal needed to be alert when a Jamie Bremner cross threatened to creep into the top corner but Crowther managed to tip the ball to safety.
The next 10 minutes saw Saints grow into the game. More assured in possession, and settling into their shape and breaking with real intent. Full backs Dan Middleton and Harry Brock were also getting into more advanced positions and on 35 minutes Brock and Ryan Knight combined well down the left channel and worked the ball to Stott. His initial cross was blocked but he steadied himself and delivered another cross which this time found Lewis Gabbidon arriving at the far post and his header was excellently directed into the bottom corner. Saints were looking very assured and on 40 minutes they doubled their lead when Matt Hammond collected the ball in centre field and fed a ball through to Knight who drew the keeper and slammed it into bottom corner.
Clearly Saints needed to keep things tight at the start of the second half, but they were caught cold by an excellent goal in the first minute of the second half when a Saints exchange on the half way line broke down. Bremner picked up the ball and struck an accurate cross field pass which Ed Major controlled excellently with his first touch. His second was even better as he arrowed a shot across Crowther and into the bottom corner. The locals sensed a comeback. But Saints reacted with maturity. James Hammond who was having a growing influence on the game cut in from the right on 50 minutes and shot left footed. Joe Wright in the Brimscombe goal parried the shot which was cleared before the Saints attackers could pounce.
But it did not take long for Saints to restore their 2 goal advantage. On 54 minutes James Hammond picked up the ball from Hartley and weaved past 3 or 4 defenders in the Brimscombe box before unselfishly squaring the ball to Matt Hammond who coolly slotted into the bottom corner.
Saints were playing some lovely controlled football, and you could sense the Brimscombe frustration growing. On 64 minutes Goddard won a header from a corner and the ball fell to Stott whose goal bound effort was hacked off of the line. Brimscombe were still having their moments and on 70 minutes the dangerous Major smashed a shot against the outside of the post.
As Brimscombe chased Saints always looked a threat going forward. On 78 minutes Matt Hammond showed great strength and skill to work his way along the right wing. The ball was worked back to James Hammond whose deep cross picked out Ryan Knight on the left side of the box and his left foot volley under Wright absolutely flew into the net.
In added time Brimscombe were to have the last shot in anger when a vicious strike by Elliot Green was parried away by Crowther with the follow up shot blasted high and wide.
So a great result for Saints and a promising performance. It was great to see young Harry McConnell and Alfie Harris making their Saints debuts during the second half. Well played Brimscombe. Great hosts. Got to say The Meadow has to be one of the most attractive grounds that we visit.