9th November 2019

Hellenic League Premier Division
Brackley Town Saints (2) Lydney Town (0)

SAINTS: – Crowther, Middleton (D), Brock, Goddard, Hartley, Ball (Kille 73), Godfrey (McConnell 88), Knight, Hammond, Middleton (L) (Gabbidon 79). 

SUBS NOT USED – Watts, Kirkum-Okeleke 

With several matches in the division postponed Saints have moved up to 3rd position in the league with their third win on the bounce. Saints will be delighted with the 3 points, no bookings and most of all a solid clean sheet. Given the conditions the game was full of good possession football and both sides came to terms with a St James pitch which was as wet as I have seen it.

Saints started brightly and should have scored in the first minute when George Ball jinked down the left wing and put in a cross which found Ryan Knight unmarked, but he misjudged his header which went wide of the left post. Lydney went straight to the other end and came close with a neat move but the final shot was tame. Lewis Middleton showed good dribbling skills on 10 minutes finding his way to the bye line, but his cutback was intercepted before Knight could strike. 

But Knight was soon on the scoresheet with a neat finish on 10 minutes. Good defending on the edge of Saints own area saw the ball break to Jordan Godfrey who played the pass of the match skimming the ball above the surface for 50 yards straight into the stride of Knight. Richard Thomas in the Lydney goal came rushing out but Knight skilfully took the ball round him before calmly rolling the ball into the empty net. 

Saints created further chances with Ball continuing to cause the Lydney defence problems on the left side. His jinking run ended with a low shot, but straight at Thomas and on 32 minutes an accurate pass out of defence by Ollie Goddard reached Ball who again jinked this way and that before firing a long shot too high. 

Lydney were neat and tidy but their opportunities were less clear cut, and perhaps Tom Handley should have done better with a header on 43 minutes. Right-on half-time Ball again beat his full back and his cross shot flew across goal. 

The second half began evenly, and Saints were looking comfortable in possession. They were fortunate on 56 minutes though when Sam Sherratt, who had another solid game in front of the defence, was unusually caught in possession, just inside the centre circle. The ball found its way to Lewis Thompson who set off on a great run but his shot from just inside the box was straight into the grateful hands of Matt Crowther. 

On 62 minutes James Hammond played Ryan Knight in on the left side. His firm strike was goal bound but well saved by Thomas. At the other end Dan Middleton was twice in the right place to block the lively substitute with good blocking tackles. As Lydney pushed in a bid to even things up Saints were breaking at speed and with intent. On 71 minutes they extended their lead following a good team move that ended with desperate defending to block shots from Knight and Hammond, but the ball eventually found its way to George Ball who calmly jinked inside and lifted the ball into the roof of the net. 

Hammond was close to adding a third goal near the end after a good run and a rising left foot shot that rose just a touch too much. Lydney had the final chance with a header that was comfortably saved by Crowther. 

So, a compelling match that will be remembered for lots of rain and the first game of the winter where the spectators felt the cold. Many thanks to the hearty 77 souls that braved the elements to watch the match. Your support is much appreciated. 

I so often spout on about the attacking fluidity of the Saints and concentrate in my reports on the goal action. But today I was impressed by the defensive organisation of the team. Nice and strong in the air centrally with both full backs contributing defensively but not afraid to get forward. 

Good luck to Lydney for the rest of the season. 

Saints move on to a visit to Longlevens next Saturday. Although several of the clubs below them have games in hand I must say that the table looks nice this evening with Saints in 3rd position. 

Come on You Saints.