Wantage Town – 3
Brackley Town Saints – 2
Brackley Town Saints went down to defeat at high flying Wantage Town on Saturday but made a fight of it after they found themselves three goals down after fifty-two minutes; pulling a goal back lifted some confidence and a late second from skipper Lewis Baldwin then saw the home side start to look nervous but they held out to claim all three points. Three individual errors gifted Wantage their goals, a trip in the box led to a penalty before two surrenders of possession in front of goal gave the Saints a mountain to climb but they can take heart from the effort they put in after Ryan Knight clawed a goal back, and with a little more time maybe would have claimed something from the game, although the experience in the Town side far outweighed the youth in the young Brackley side.
Brackley had the first chance on five minutes when a flick on in midfield set Josh Bowden away on goal, as the home defensive line called for offside the assistant referee point his flag to the floor allowing the Saints leading scorer to advance on Curtis Meare in the Town goal, but taking the shot on early he pulled his effort wide of the target. From the free kick the hosts saw Jim Glover away down their right, he peeled away from his marker and got his shot away which Saints keeper Farrell had to block with his feet. Farrell returning to the side after regular custodian Alastair Worby was called up to Brackley first team action in the FA Trophy semi-final.
Saints tried again down the right with Matt Johnson who carved out some space, he squared across the box to Bowden who took a touch before firing over the crossbar, and at the other end a cross from Nick Thorne saw Glover go up with a Brackley defender, the ball headed across the penalty area where running in Jon Davoile lifted high over the top. Wantage then won a penalty on seventeen minutes when Jack Dunmall was fed in on the right of the Saints area and he went down under a challenge, giving the referee no option but to point at the spot.
Ryan Markham tucked home into Farrell’s bottom right hand corner to open the scoring, and bring some warmth to the home faithful who were braving the artic conditions and constant snowfall. Thorne then travelled down the Wantage right wing before squaring across the Saints eighteen-yard line to Markham who could only lift over the top.
The home side doubled their two minutes before the interval, conceding possession in their own half to Glover saw him advance into the area and shoot, Farrell made the block with his feet but the ball rolled across to the incoming Town striker Steve Robertson who side footed home his thirty-seventh goal of the season from twelve-yards out. There was still time for Mark Flanagan to cross to Glover who volleyed over the top, and it didn’t look as though it was going to be Glover’s afternoon at this stage. H/T: 2-0
Just seven minutes after the interval the game looked to be over, when Glover finally got his goal after again pressuring a Saints defender to give him the ball deep in the Saints half, the midfielder took the ball on before rounding Farrell and firing home. Three goals down and things looked bleak for the visitor’s, but they didn’t let their heads drop, and continued playing their football.
They were rewarded just before the hour mark when a ball down their left saw Knight away on goal, again the home back line screamed for the offside flag and again it didn’t materialise, Meare advanced but Knight finished with some aplomb, firing into the back of the net. The away side then should have had a second just eight minutes later, a back pass to Meare saw him try to outwit Johnson who was breathing down his neck, but the keeper got it all wrong and miskicked leaving him stranded, but with goal unguarded a rush of blood saw the Saints winger fire over the top.
Wantage almost hit their guests with a sucker punch moments later when Glover got away down the right and saw his fierce drive pushed away by Farrell for a corner. With six minutes left on the clock, Saints pulled another goal back, a promising attack saw a foul on Bowden right on the edge of the eighteen yard box, just to the right of goal. Baldwin took the free kick and at the near post Meare went down but the ball bounced in front of him, hit his trailing hand and went in.
Whilst the visitor’s sensed they could get back in the game, they were always subject to the counter attack, and with two minutes left a Brackley clearance saw the ball knocked back through the red & white defence to Glover who squared to Robertson, his first time effort pushed over the crossbar by Farrell. From the corner, Town substitute Paul Alder got his head to the ball first forcing Farrell into a point blank save, a follow up shot saw the keeper make another stunning block whilst on the floor.
Brackley threw everything into the final moments and won a free kick deep in the Wantage half, the ball was floated into the sea of bodies in front of Meare, as a head went up so did the flag, and from the free kick the final whistle sounded to the relief of the home faithful. F/T: 3-2
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