19th January 2019
UHL Hellenic League Premier Division
Brackley Town Saints (0) Flackwell Heath (0)
SAINTS – Worby, Green (Woods 48), Brock, Godfrey, Goddard, Baldwin, Middleton, Watts, Knight, Hammond, Kille (Ward 75) – Sub not used Middleton L, Ireland, Jordan
Only the third time that Saints have failed to register a goal in a league game this season. Despite the lack of goals this was an enjoyable game with plenty of chances, but good defending and great goalkeeping won the day in the end.
Flackwell started like a train. They were full of confidence and enthusiasm and after only 4 minutes Ali Worby was needed to make a fine save from a free kick. Immediately Taylor found space in the Saints box but his shot was deflected for a corner. Saints were digging in and on 12 minutes a Flackwell corner was met powerfully by centre half Bailey but luckily for Saints James Watts was on hand to head off line. On 17 minutes Olly Goddard was forced to concede a free kick in a dangerous position which was fizzed across the face of the Saints goal.
Saints were growing into the game but struggled to find their normal rhythm. Flackwell continued to look dangerous and on 26 minutes Sinclair blazed over when one on one with Worby and minutes later Worby was faced to save well with his legs.
Saints had not had a shot on target but on 30 minutes they came the closest to opening the scoring when Goddard rose well to loop a header over the keeper but unfortunately it was a touch to high and came back off of the bar.
Saints now enjoyed a period where they looked more comfortable on the ball, retaining possession and moving Flackwell around. This nearly bore fruit when Watts was not far away with a shot from the left hand edge of the box that was inches wide.
The last 10 minutes of the half became a little tetchy with petty fouls and testosterone taking over resulting in a couple of bookings.
The second half started with Flackwell again creating a shooting chance but again the ball was ballooned over the bar. Saints made a couple of changes with Matthew Woods replacing Curtis Green and then Joe Ward replacing Charlie Kille with with Lewis Baldwin moving into midfield. The change had an effect and Saints finally found space and time and were knocking the ball around with confidence. Flackwell were still creating chances and on 58 minutes Worby again saved with his legs, a la De Gea.
But it was Saints that again came closest to opening the scoring when a lovely move through midfield saw James Hammond set up Ryan Knight just outside the right hand side of the box. His curling effort looked in all of the way but crashed against the bar and rebounded to safety. Saints were now on top with Flackwell seemingly tiring and struggling to keep hold of the ball.
On 60 minutes Goddard won a good header from a corner, but Watkins was able to save comfortably. In the next passage of play Saints stole the ball with Harry Brock releasing Hammond down left channel and his cross just failed to find Knight in the box.
Saints continued to probe and looked the more likely to score. In a frantic last 5 minutes they had 3 good opportunities. First on 43 minutes Hammond and Jordan Godfrey combined well with Hammond setting Knight free behind the defence but Watkins was on his toes and just managed to get there ahead of Knight. A minute later an astute pass from Godfrey found Knight who controlled the ball brilliantly to make the room for a shot but he pulled it agonisingly wide of the far post. In the next wave of pressure Middleton and Woods combined to set Watts free and his cross/shot whizzed across the face of goal just out of reach of the Saints strikers
A challenging game where Saints showed resilience to hang on in there during a first half where they were given a thorough test by Flackwell. In the end it was honours even in what would have been a very watchable game for the neutral. Both teams could have scored 5/6 goals, however both teams defended very well. Flackwell took the first half on points but Saints were very strong and increasingly dominant through the second half.