22nd October 2019

Hellenic League Premier division
Virginia Water (1) Brackley Town Saints (1) 

SAINTS: – Crowther, Gabbidon, Brock, Middleton D, March, Hartley, Ball, Hammond, Knight, Godfrey Sherratt (85), Kille. 

SUBS NOT USED – Middleton (L), Dowse 

This was one of those games where it’s difficult to know whether it was a point gained or two points lost. Either way it was a highly entertaining game and probably a fair result for two sides with different styles but both highly effective at times. 

The first five minutes were frantic, and VW should’ve taken the lead in the first minute when sloppy defending allowed the VW striker to stroll through on goal. He rounded Matt Crowther but amazingly pulled his shot wide of the Saints goal. 

Saints responded well with good passing and movement leading to a couple of opportunities the best of which saw Charlie Kille getting in behind the VW defence and rounding their keeper, Matt Jones, but losing balance before being able to square the ball to the arriving attackers. Then On 12 minutes Jordan Godfrey picked up the ball in central midfield and a good strong run saw him reach the edge of the penalty box, but his shot was dragged wide of the post.
Saints were certainly enjoying most of the possession and took the lead on 20 minutes when Mark Lansdowne was judged to have handled in the box. At first sight the award looked a little harsh however people closer to the incident than me seemed to think it was the right decision. Ryan Knight confidently converted. 

Harry Brock and Lewis Gabbidon were both taking every opportunity to get forward in their wingback roles, but occasionally VW were able to take advantage of the space in behind them when Saints surrendered possession cheaply. On 23 minutes Adam McNamara almost took full advantage of this when he found space and got a good shot away which rebounded off the bar. Saints were also nearly punished when a misplaced clearance by Matt Crowther fell to the feet of the VW midfielder, but he took too long to organise his feet and the situation was cleared. 

HALF TIME: VW (0) Saints (1)
Saints started the second half in positive fashion and a cracking move down the left wing saw a dangerous Harry Brock cross snuffled out at the expense of a corner which Godfrey swung across just eluding Ryan Knight on the goal line. 

On 49 minutes Saints put together the move of the match from their own penalty area all the way across and down the pitch. Eventually the ball was fed out to Gabbidon overlapping at speed. Unfortunately, his low cross was just too far ahead of the onrushing Knight and Ball.
During this period VW had two long range attempts on goal with Crowther having to make very good saves, one low to his left and the other when he athletically tipped a rasping drive over the bar.

On 80 minutes James Hammond broke free at pace through the middle of the pitch onto a pass from Godfrey. The VW Centre half did brilliantly to stay with Hammond and frustrated his attempt to play in Knight who was unmarked and waiting to pounce. 

The game had become open and was flowing from end to end but there was a sense that Saints were beginning to frustrate VW. However on 84 minutes VW managed to find space down their right channel and a nice passing move ended with the ball played through to Joel Drew who confidently stroked the ball past Crowther to equalise.

Understandably VW were lifted by their equaliser and minutes later there were loud shouts for a penalty when Matt Crowther rushed out to challenge Adam McNamara as he bore down on goal. At the other end there were loud Saints shouts for a second penalty for handball. On both occasions the referee waved play on. Saints hung on for the last couple of minutes to claim a deserved point. 

These two teams have met twice in the last few weeks and both times the games have finished drawn at 1–1. Having watched both games it is fair to say that there is not a lot between the two teams. They have different playing styles and different strengths and weaknesses, but they are very well matched. Many thanks to VW for their hospitality and for what was a great game on an excellent playing service.  

Saints now turn their attention to another away game on Saturday when we shall be the visitors to Shrivenham FC.