Brackley Town Saints – 4
Tuffley Rovers – 1
Brackley Town Saints rose to the summit of the Hellenic League Premier Division table on Saturday with a convincing win over Gloucestershire side Tuffley Rovers at St James’ Park, to complete the league double over their opponents with goals from Charlie Kille, James Hammond and a brace from Ryan Knight. A very warm afternoon saw Saints take an early lead only to be pegged back on the half hour mark, but once they regained their lead before the break it seemed only a matter of time until they killed the game off, and in truth without some goal line clearances the margin could have been much greater for Gordon Kille and his ever improving team.
The hosts took the lead in the eighth minute when Hammond threaded a ball through the Rovers backline for Kille to run on to where he slotted home inside the near post, Rovers tried to fight back and won a corner which looked looked harmless but the Saints failed to clear, picking up the loose ball inside the area Kieran Alder turned but lifted high over the top. Moments later a free kick awarded on the edge of the eighteen yard line was curled around everyone and the far post by Mark Pritchett, but as much as Tuffley attacked their hosts were looking lively on the break, a ball swung in from the right was met on the volley in the middle by Knight, and his dipping drive saw the fingertips of Rovers custodian Luke Merchant push over his crossbar.
Knight was again in the thick of the action when played through and in front of goal Merchant made a good block with his legs, the Saints striker tussled with a defender to try and regain the ball but running in Hammond took possession and drifting slightly away from goal saw his shot flash across the goal mouth and inches wide. The visitors equalised with fifteen minutes of the half left, a corner from their right saw home keeper Alastair Worby come to collect but with a mass of bodies all fighting for the ball he could not hold on, fighting then with the keeper and centre half Joe Ward, Brett James did well to stick out a boot and lift into the roof of the net. Brackley attacked from the restart winning a corner, curled into the back post Alex Stott went to sweep home only for a defender on the line to clear, but then just four minutes after the leveller Knight fired his side back ahead.
A Tuffley corner broke down and Jordan Godfrey from deep inside his own half sent the ball long down the right channel, Knight raced on to it and as Merchant met him on the edge of the area the front man flicked the ball past him towards the unguarded net, he rounded the keeper to give chase and with a defender in attendance they both slid in but Knight got the touch to regain his side the lead. Rovers again fought back, another great corner from Paul Carter found Jake Rhodes in the middle and his glancing header bounced just wide, before a Knight free kick at the opposite end was curled over the wall but straight at Merchant. A Kille cross from the left then saw substitute George Ball climb well at the back post but his header was over the top, and in the final minute a break away from the away side saw Sam Hill just outside the penalty arc clip his shot past the upright. H/T: 2-1
Tuffley almost equalised again straight after the restart when James again got into the box and fired back across Worby forcing him down to his right to save one handed with Dan Middleton on hand to clear the danger. Some of the football played by Brackley at times had Rovers chasing shadows, one such move saw James Watts feed Knight who in turn drove forward and lay off to Godfrey whose low drive saw Merchant having to dive away to his left and push past his post for a corner, that swung in deep and headed back across goal to Hammond who smashed into the side netting from close range. Then on sixty-five minutes Brackley scored their third which virtually killed the game off as a contest.
A Rovers attack broke down on the half way line and the ball knocked down the left for Hammond to latch onto, cutting in towards goal he could have gone for glory himself but he unselfishly centred into Knight who volleyed home. Tuffley substitute Liam Gale then did well down the wing getting to the byline before beating his marker and flashing his effort right across the six yard box but with no one able to get near, it rolled harmlessly away for a goal kick. The game was then sealed with sixteen minutes left when a cross from Godfrey found Hammond totally unmarked to the left of goal where from twelve yards he lifted up into the roof of the net. Recently introduced to the action Levi Steele went close moments later when played through the middle his shot saved by the legs of Merchant, before another great cross found Kille at the back post where Merchant had to get down well again to block for a corner.
The cross was initially cleared but the ball swung back in found Chris Jordan who saw his side footed effort fly across the goal face and wide of the back post, there were then two late chances for the visitor’s that both fell to Henry Birkett, the first was an elaborate attempt to lob Worby from some forty yards however the keeper simply had to back pedal to claim on his line, the second a shot from inside the box that went wide. F/T: 4-1
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