The penultimate league game of the season is on Easter Monday (kick-off 3pm) when Kevin Wilkin takes his side to Chester.
This is Chester’s first season back at Tier 6 after relegation from National League last season. So it is the first visit to Chester for Saints since the 2012-13 season. That fixture came in February 2013 and was a goal-less draw, a defence-minded Saints team frustrating runaway league leaders Chester. The side that day featured Billy Turley, Brett Solkhon, Gary Mulligan and Jefferson Louis. Glenn Walker and Tom Winters were unavailable through injury.
The circumstances of Monday’s game are quite different with Brackley in third place in National League North, a play-off slot secured several games ago, while Chester are pursuing the chance to get into the top seven, currently in ninth spot and needing maximum points from the two remaining games to retain an outside chance of making the play-offs. Chester travel to Alfreton on Saturday in their final game.
The Blues’ home record is stronger than their results on the road. Home form would place Chester in fifth place having lost just three times all season at the Swansway Chester Stadium. On home form alone Kevin Wilkin’s team would be top.
Chester have lost just one of their last seven games, albeit that was a 6-0 defeat to leaders Stockport County.
Saints continued their fine run of form with Friday’s win over Boston following Tuesday evening’s win at Altrincham.
Brackley need four points from their remaining two matches to be certain of third place and the home advantage that this bestows in a play-off semi-final. The final placings remain unresolved so tight are things in the table and this is likely to remain the case until the final Saturday of the season when the play-off pairings will finally become clear.
Kevin Wilkin remains focused only on the next game: “The win over Boston was hard-earned. Maybe we should have scored one or two more goals but the main thing is we kept a clean-sheet and came through OK and everybody should be fit for the Monday game which will be a real battle for us. We just have to keep our eye on the next game to be honest. Monday is the next opportunity to go and win a game and that is what we will try to do. You can’t take anything for granted in this league. It is too close and too intense to think that you can. So we will have to be right at it. Chester will come out. They will need the points because there is still the chance they can get into the play-offs. So we don’t expect anything easy. We totally respect the teams that we come up against and look to do everything we can to give us the best chance of being successful.”
The game will be Saints’ fourth match in ten days before FC United of Manchester are the visitors on the final league Saturday of the season. The FC United fixture will be an extra special occasion featuring the formal presentation of last season’s FA Trophy (replica that the club retains). Popular soprano and national anthem singer Emily Haig will perform on the pitch before the game https://www.emilyhaigsoprano.co.uk/. The whole day will be held in support of the Henry Allen Trust, a fantastic local charity with a close club connection.
If you cannot get to the Chester game on Friday you can follow the action via updates on the club Twitter feed and on BBC Radio Oxford.