Tuesday 6th March
UHL Hellenic League – Premier Division
Brackley Town Saints (2) Abingdon United (0)
SAINTS: Worby, Ball (S), Brock, Watts, Goddard, Hartley (Middleton 61), Ball (G), Hammond, Bowden (Kille 61), Godfrey, Knight (Mathers 88)
SUBS not used: Ward, Ireland
Saints dusted themselves down after the disappointing loss at the weekend and secured a deserved 3 points against a resolute Abingdon side who have shown a marked improvement in form over recent weeks. It was not Saints at their most fluent, however they were defensively solid and in a second half where their quality improved they created enough opportunities to have won more comfortably.
Sam Hartley slotted in at centre half and he and Olly Goddard looked strong and secure from the start. Saints started brightly with early corners, and just the final ball missing. A good move down the left saw Harry Brock’s cross just too hard and a good break by James Hammond saw his pass just too strong for George Ball.
It was 20 minutes before Abingdon threatened but Worby needed to be solid behind a shot that reared up off the pitch. Saints were dominating possession but chances were limited to long range shots with George Ball, Jordan Godfrey and Ryan Knight all failing to test the keeper from distance. The half seemed to be petering out when on 42 minutes Josh Bowden found Ryan Knight with a precise long ball and his left foot volley flashed past the post. A minute late a precise Saints move saw James Watts float a perfect 50 yard pass to Knight. His first touch was excellent, the second less so, but it bamboozled the defender and gave him the space to rifle a left foot shot which beat the keeper and flew into the bottom corner.
In a frantic finish to the half Knight had a further 2 attempts on goal, but Abingdon managed to hold on.
Saints started the second half as they finished the first, and immediately Knight had a great chance to extend the lead but was thwarted by a good save from the keeper. Knight then turned provider setting up Hammond who pulled his shot wide.
On 50 minutes Abingdon had their best opportunity of the game but Worby was on hand to save when one on one with the striker. The following corner resulted in some penalty area pinball but Brock cleared.
Further long range shots from Watts and Godfrey were close. On 61 minutes Saints made a double substitution with Middleton replacing Hartley, who had picked up a knock and with Kille replacing Bowden. Saints continued to press and a patient passing move ended with Godfrey whizzing another shot past the post.
Finally Saints doubled their advantage on 66 minutes. Watts floated a free kick into the Abingdon area where Goddard was proving to be a handful and was pulled over. The ref had no hesitation in awarding the penalty which George Ball dispatched under the goalie.
Saints relaxed and in the last 20 minutes created numerous chances. On 73 minutes Sam Ball played Hammond into the right channel of the penalty area and his driven cross flew across the area with Knight unable to add the finishing touch. A minute later Godfrey was close with a shot from just outside the area.
Abingdon themselves came close with a header from a corner which Worby did well to turn round the post. From the resulting corner Saints broke rapidly with Hammond finding Knight who cleverly held the ball up and played Hammond in behind the defence. It looked as though he must score but the goalkeeper stayed on his feet and managed to snuffle out the danger.
That was about it, save for a last minute scuffle which saw a player from both teams booked and the introduction of Nial Mathers for his Saints debut.
So Saints move back up to 3rd place and are still heavily involved in the fight for promotion. Next game is a trip to Reading City on Saturday 9th March for what will be a tough test.
Come on you Saints…..!!