Brackley Town 1-0 Stockport County 9/3/19
Lee Ndlovu’s 76th minute goal was the difference in an evenly contested game between two well matched sides as Brackley inflicted a first defeat on Stockport County since mid-November.
The sides drew at Edgeley Park earlier in the season, County equalising deep into added time on that occasion, and, with County the form team, the return match was always going to be a tight and tense affair inside a packed St James Park, the crowd boosted by a large travelling contingent of supporters.
“It is three massive points for us,” Brackley manager Kevin Wilkin said. “We knew it was not going to be a great spectacle with the wind and the difficult surface but we had worked on our game plan and stuck to it. Danny Lewis made a couple of terrific saves as did their keeper. We scored a terrific goal and thoroughly deserved the win. If we can maintain that level of commitment and keep to that level of performance hopefully we can have a strong finish to the season.”
The game was hard fought between sides wary of each other as reflected in the comments of County manager Jim Gannon: “It was a tight game between two teams with a lot of respect for each other. Perhaps we deserved a goal for our efforts but it was always likely to be decided by one goal. I am disappointed of course but there have been other games when we’ve come away with all three points when the opposition perhaps deserved more. We knew that this game and the one away at Chorley would be our toughest remaining matches.”
Danny Lewis in the Brackley goal made an excellent one-handed save midway through the first half to deny Frank Mulhern and Lee Ndlovu’s shot from distance had Ben Hinchliffe scrambling to cover his post as neither side took control in blustery conditions.
Ndlovu missed a fine chance to put his side ahead on the hour as Hinchliffe saved well from Saints’ top scorer and County’s Sam Walker fired in a fierce effort just too high.
With a quarter of an hour to play Brackley broke the deadlock to open up a thrilling finale. Matt Lowe’s run set up substitute Luke Fairlamb whose shot was beaten away by Hinchliffe only for Ndlovu to finish decisively netting his 19th goal in all competitions.
Twice Elliot Osborne was denied by Lewis as The Hatters pushed for an equaliser. But a resilient Saints held out and the final whistle signalled an 8th win from nine NLN games and a third clean-sheet in four games for Wilkin’s men who remain in 4th place while Stockport drop to second behind Chorley.
Brackley Town: Lewis, Myles, G.Walker (Nti 90+3), Byrne, Hall, Dean, Lowe, Armson, Ndlovu, Baker (Murombedzi 90), A.Walker (Fairlamb 74). Subs unused: Jackson, Sterling-James.
Stockport County: Hinchliffe, Cowan, Baines (Thomas 79), Keane, Palmer, Stott, Minihan (Duxbury 64), Walker, Mulhern, Osborne, Kirby (Warburton 46). Subs unused: Ormson, Turnbull.
Referee: Scott Simpson Assistants: Ryan Williams and Richie Watkins