31st August 2019

Hellenic League Premier Division

Brackley Town Saints (0) Longlevens AFC (2) 

Brackley Town Saints: Matt Crowther, Dan Middleton, Lewis Gabbidon, Dean March, Ollie Goddard (c), Sam Hartley, Alex Stott, Charlie Kille, Matt Hammond, James Hammond, Lester Davies. 

Subs: Ethan Dowse, Harry Brock, Lewis Middleton, Piotr Jacucha. 

Saints will play worse than this during the season and pick something up from the game. That they did not take anything from this game was due to an excellent display by Levens keeper, Kane Winman, numerous shots just off target or hitting the woodwork, some sloppy defending and not forgetting some well organised and stout defending from Levens, who once the found themselves ahead in the game made sure they stayed ahead. 

Perhaps the signs were there for all to see early doors when Matt Crowther was twice required to get down low to his right to make important saves when the Levens forwards capitalised on hesitation in the Saints defence. 

At the other end Saints also showed early intent with Matt Hammond having their first shot on target but which was straight at the keeper. Saints played some nice football on the excellent St James Park surface and on 12 minutes the ball was worked out to Lester Davies, making his Saints debut, and he cut in from the left getting a cracking right foot shot away which was excellently tipped over the bar by Winman. 

Davies was involved again on 15 minutes picking up a defensive clearance in centre field and leading a break that saw him feed Alex Stott in the right channel whose low shot whistled past Winman but also the left upright. On 19 minutes patient play resulted in Matt Hammond bursting through but Winman was out sharply, getting his angles right and making it hard for Hammond whose shot crept wide of the post. 

Saints were lucky on 24 minutes when Goddard got caught allowing Josh Watts to break into the Saints box where he skirted round Crowther and although he faced 2/3 Saints defenders on the line he looked certain to score but pulled his shot wide of the post.

 Overall Saints were shading possession and the chances. On 30 minutes James Hammond found space 30 yards from goal and hit a fierce drive which whistled past that left post again. 

The complexion of the game changed on 35 minutes when Saints conceded a very sloppy goal. Firstly a Lewis Gabbidon back pass slipped under Crowthers boot resulting in an unnecessary corner. Saints then switched off allowing the corner to be fed to Levens full back Will Emery. His low hard cross was met by Dean March who attempted to clear but the ball came off of his shin and flew past the helpless Crowther.  Levens were cock a hoop. Saints were stunned. 

Just before half time an excellent passing move resulted in James Hammond  breaking free into the Levens penalty area and his low hard reverse pass was met by Matt Hammond arriving at pace. His first time shot was destined for the top of the net but Winman’s reactions were tip top, and he tipped the ball over the bar. 

Half time brought lots of headshaking from the Saints supports who wondered just how Saints had ended up behind. The second half started with Saints on the front foot again and good combination work from Charlie Kille and Matt Hammond set up James Hammond whose nimble feet took him past 2 or 3 players. His shot seemed destined for the bottom corner but hit the post and bounced to safety. 

On 51 minutes Levens broke rapidly from a defensive position. Tommy Callinan broke onto the ball rounded Crowther and tapped the ball into the empty net. 

Levens set up with plenty of players behind the ball and were happy to try to catch Saints on the break. Saints worked hard to break them down, but chances were few and far between and Saints knew it was not to be their day when with 5 minutes to go a long ball from Harry Brock found substitute Lewis Middleton. His first touch was excellent and his goal bound volley looked as though it would set up a grandstand finish. However yet again the ball hit the post and was cleared to safety. 

So a disappointing result, and clearly it was not to be Saints day, but some positives to take from the game. Onwards and upwards……