7th December 2019
Brackley Town Saints (1) Brimscombe & Thrupp (2)
Hellenic League Premier Division
Saints: Crowther, Gabbidon, Middleton L, Godfrey, Brock, Middleton (D), Ball, Godfrey, Hammond (Mister 72), Knight, McConnell
Subs not used: Dowse, Thompson
This was a far more entertaining game than the mid-week defeat to Burnham FC. For large parts of the game Saints played some attractive and entertaining football, but without really creating too many clear-cut chances. Brimscombe also had their moments throughout the match and they took advantage of a couple of lapses by Saints to take the honours and achieve their first league win of the season.
The increasingly long Saints injury list was extended with both Sam Sheratt and Sam Hartley unavailable after picking up knocks in Wednesdays game. Manager Chris Hurley was forced to shuffle his pack bringing in 16-year-old Hayden McConnell from the Saints youth team and Charlie Kille to the starting line-up, with only 3 subs with 2 from the U18 squad.
Saints started well with plenty of energy, good movement and quick passing, but it was Brimscombe that had the first attempt on goal on 15 minutes when the ball fell to Johan Flo just outside the Saints box. He cut inside and struck a powerful curling shot that flew just over the crossbar.
Saints took the lead 2 minutes later and it was a cracking goal at the end of a move from one penalty box to the other. It started with composed defensive play by Saints in the right back area ending with a long clearance by Jordan Godfrey in the right back area that found Ryan Knight just inside the Saints half. Knight was able to lay the ball off first time and into the path of James Hammond in the centre circle. Hammond drove forward into the left channel before playing the ball to the overlapping Charlie Kille who advanced and crossed. The ball found Hammond on the left side of the six-yard area. Hammond looked to play the ball to Knight, but it was deflected out to the edge of the box where George Ball, arrived like a steam train and rifled the ball past Ashley Gale in the Brimscombe goal.
Saints tails were up and Brimscombe were struggling to find a foothold but the mood changed on 25 minutes when the visitors were incensed that the referee did not award a penalty when they felt that Harry Brock pulled James Campbell down in the area when the latter was bearing down on goal. There was suddenly fire in the Brimscombe bellies and a visible step up in their game. On 27 minutes Jake Parrott struck a 25-yard screamer which the fingertips of Matt Crowther managed to divert over the bar. The resulting corner whizzed across the Saints 6-yard box and Crowther made a fine reflex save a minute later when another dangerous corner was headed at him from point blank range.
The equaliser finally came on 33 minutes when Jamie Bremner swung in a low corner which eluded everybody in the 6-yard box and with no Saints defender on the far post the ball crept into the Saints net.
The rest of the half was uneventful, but Saints had re-taken the ascendancy in terms of possession. This continued in the early minutes of the second half firstly when a strong James Hammond run caused panic in the Brimscombe defence and on 49 minutes George Ball followed suit with an excellent run down the left wing and into the visitor’s penalty box. He squared the ball to Knight who took the shooting opportunity with his first touch but agonisingly lifted the ball just over the bar.
Brimscombe were having their moments and James Campbell came close with a shot on 59 minutes after some strong hold up play.
Saints were pushing but sometimes too hard squandering possession in their haste and on 66 minutes the ball was lost in midfield. Brimscombe broke rapidly and although Saints appeared to have defended the position the ball broke to Flo whose first-time shot was curled around Crowther and into the top corner.
Could Saints find the inspiration to turn things round? They tried. Hammond showed great skill and determination to burst into the Brimscombe box, but his left foot shot was stifled by an Ashley Caldwell tackle and worryingly for Saints Hammond limped gingerly from the pitch after a sustained spell of treatment from Physio Bowie Price.
Crowther did well when keeping his composure to frustrate Flo who was through one on one and should really have killed the game off. He nearly paid dearly when a long kick from Crowther found Ball who had the pace to outrun the Brimscombe defence but unfortunately his attempted shot from the right side of the box was pulled across the goal and past the far post.
The ref brought matters to a halt and the delight of the Brimscombe players and their supporters was understandable. Good luck to them for the rest of the season. They are a good bunch and it is interesting how these 2 teams that were vying for league honours last year have found things much more difficult this year. Both teams have suffered with injuries and Saints will hope to see some of their longer term injured back in training soon.