4th December 2019 

Brackley Town Saints (0) Burnham FC (1)
Hellenic League Premier Division

Saints: Crowther, Gabbidon, Brock, Sherratt, Middleton (D), Hartley (Watts 46), Ball, Godfrey (McConnell 89), Knight, Hammond, Middleton L 

Subs not used: Okeleke, Dowse, Brady 

A bad day at the office for Saints who were second best in a game that was not much of a spectacle for the spectators on a really cold night at St James Park. Saints were passive, careless with the ball, and although they enjoyed the greater share of possession too much of it was in very deep positions in and around their own box. There were lots of passes, but many were sideways and backwards. 

Saints were to test the Burnham keeper twice in the first 10 minutes. First on 2 minutes when James Hammond broke from midfield and drove into space in the right channel. His cross found Ryan Knight who set the ball into the path of Lewis Gabbidon who got a first time shot on target, but it was comfortably saved by Carl Dennison. Dennison was given a tougher test five minutes later when George Ball picked the ball up 30 yards from goal and fizzed a shot towards the top corner which the keeper confidently palmed over the bar for a corner. Despite the bright start Saints seemed to retreat into their shell and they did not create another shot on target for the rest of the game. 

On 10 minutes Sherratt was stitched up like a kipper when a short pass left him stretching and he was forced to concede a free kick in a dangerous position. The wall did its job, but Sherratt picked up a yellow card. 

Burnham fashioned their first chance on 17 minutes when a long ball found Matthew Ayres who escaped the attentions of Dan Middleton and nicely controlled the ball on his chest, but Saints keeper Crowther had spotted the danger and was quickly off his line to thwart Ayres as he was about to shoot. 

The next 15 minutes saw Saints have plenty of possession, but too often the ball was given away in their own half and on 33 minutes Burnham nearly took full advantage with Sam Coles pouncing on a misplaced pass and he was unlucky to see his powerful shot hit the crossbar and bounce to safety.   

Half time saw Sam Hartley withdrawn due to injury, with Harry Brock shifting in alongside Dan Middleton and with Lewis Middleton slotting in at left back. It was great to see James Watts returning to the fray. However, it was still Burnham that looked the more likely and on 53 minutes they were unfortunate when their striker turned well and saw his shot bounce away having struck the right-hand post. 

Burnham finally took the lead on 76 minutes, and it had been coming. The goal itself was a simple header from the Burnham centre half Tom Willment who powerfully met a left-wing corner which whistled into the empty net. 

The remainder of the game was non-descript and Burnham held out despite a late rally from Saints. So as always it is disappointing to lose, but it is more the manner of the defeat that Saints must think about. There is also an ever-growing injury list. Added to Lewis Baldwin, Ollie Goddard and Dean March there were injuries picked up in this game for James Watts, Sam Hartley and Sam Sherratt. The management team will have their fingers crossed that these are niggles that will not stop players being available for Saturdays visit of Brimscombe to St James Park. COYS.