2nd March 2019
UHL Hellenic League – Premier Division
Brackley Town Saints (2) Wantage Town (3)
Brackley Town Saints: Alastair Worby (c), Sam Ball, Harry Brock, Jack Carter, Oliver Goddard, Scott Whitmore (Jordan Godfrey 70), George Ball, James Watts (Joshua Ireland 93), Joshua Bowden, James Hammond, Ryan Knight. Subs n/u: Charlie Kille, Matthew Woods, Curtis Green
Wantage Town: Curtis Meare, Dan Comer, Mark Flanagan, Matt Cheetham (Callum Wright 74), Chris Jackson (c), Brad Cox, Ben Cook (Dan Sadler 85), Ryan Markham, Steve Robertson, Jack Dunmall (Connor Mattimore 64), Nick Thorne. Sub n/u: Ben Sadler
Referee: Stephen Parkinson
Assistants: Rod Haddrell, Tom Haddrell
Saints were edged out by Wantage after a thrilling encounter at St James Park and which sees them drop to fifth place in what has become a highly competitive run in for league honours. Saints started brightly and James Hammond and Josh Bowden combined well just outside the box. Hammond took the ball on but his rising shot was just too high. Soon after George Ball got a shot away but without unduly troubling Curtis Meare in the Wantage goal.
However Wantage were looking lively up front and creating chances and Mark Flanagan fired a Steve Robertson pull back over on 8 minutes, and Nick Thorne had a weak tenth minute shot comfortably claimed by Ali Worby at his near post.
Saints were caught cold on 14 minutes following another good strike from George Ball which was well held by Meare. The keepers’ quickly found Jack Dunmall just inside the Brackley half and, spotting Worby out on the edge of his area fired home from about 40 yards out to give Wantage the lead.
Saints found themselves on the back foot and Wantage had chances to double their advantage. Robertson then came close to stabbing the ball past Worby from a Dunmall through ball on 24 minutes, and four minutes later Dunmall reached the goal-line but his pull back didn’t clear Worby with Ben Cook waiting unmarked in the six yard area. Wantage were often dangerous from throw-ins and Robertson neatly controlled a Flanagan throw-in on 36 minutes turned neatly and got his shot away. Worby was alert and quickly down to save.
Brackley’s equaliser came on 38 minutes after Brad Cox conceded a free kick on the corner of the area, with James Watts precise delivery finding the towering Olly Goddard who picked his spot to head home. Saints had equalised against the run of play, but could not hold on to parity for long when four minutes later, again following a series of throw-ins James Watts’ clearance from just outside the 6 yard box was charged down by Dunmall and the ricochet off of his shins found the bottom corner of the net with Worby unable to react. A really fortunate goal.
Brackley started the second half in the ascendency and following a corner Meare did really well to bravely block at the feet of Goddard. But Wantage quickly broke to the other end with Thorne slipping past Worby but his shot to the open goal was a little weak and Harry Brock was able to get back to retrieve the situation with a tremendous clearance off the line. The game was very open and on 53 minutes George Ball’s effort was matched by Meare who made another good save. Ball’s follow up shot was blocked by Brad Cox. Ten minutes later Robertson nearly profited from a corner as Worby came and missed, but his effort was blocked by the covering defender on the far post.
Saints were looking far more fluent and on 65 minutes another good passing move ended with Knight putting over a great cross but Watts was unable to get his header on target. Two minutes later Flanagan blocked another George Ball effort at the near post.
On 70 minutes the linesman appeared to miss an obvious offside decision, however James Hammond played on and put in a perfect cross to the unmarked Jordan Godfrey but yet again Meare was sharply off his line to make another point-blank save.
Wantage nearly sealed it on 79 minutes when Connor Mattimore combined well with Robertson whose crisp shot came back off the post with Worby beaten.
Brackley continued to press and on 87 minutes a quick break ended with Jordan Godfrey’s excellent pass volleyed on target by George Ball, but again the shot was well blocked by the Wantage defenders. Saints re-circulated the ball and Josh Bowden laid it back to James Watt who got his shot away. The shot flew wide but Ryan Markham took Watts out with a late tackle and was promptly shown a straight red card. The free kick was central and circa 5 yards outside the box. George Ball perfectly flighted his free-kick over the wall and found the top corner. It seemed that the tide had turned and perhaps Saints had the momentum and 2/3 minutes to snatch victory.
However two minutes into stoppage time Worby misplaced his pass when playing out from the back. Robertson could not believe his luck and he rolled the ball into the net to steal the points and to break Saints hearts.
Saints will be bitterly disappointed not to have taken something from the game given the circumstances. That is taking nothing away from Wantage who were on top for periods of the game, and particularly in the first half had a number of chances to have killed the game off. However this young Saints team are resilient, and they never stop trying. Arguably they were unlucky and deserved something from the game. One of the Wantage goals was a freak, and one the result of an error from a player that has not put a foot wrong so far this season. So heads up and on to the next game. Abingdon Utd at St James Park on Wednesday 6th March KO7-45pm.