8th December 2018

UHL Hellenic League Premier Division

Brackley Town Saints (0) Bishops Cleeve (2) 

SAINTS: Worby, Brock, Walker, Baldwin, Whitmore (Green 62), Kille, Godfrey (Middleton 82), Watts, Jordan (Chukwuemeka 66), Knight, Hammond – Subs not used Ward, Rhema 

A cold and windy afternoon at St James Park. Earlier in the season Cleeve edged a thriller between the two teams in the cup and another close encounter was expected. Saints Manager Gordon Kille was missing his 3 regular centre backs through injury and drafted Bradley Walker into the side for his Saints debut. 

The early stages were encouraging with both teams looking to play out from the back. Cleeve showed early intent with a dangerous early cross which was tidily cleaned up by Jordan Godfrey. For 10 minutes there was not much in the game, but Cleeve had the upper hand with Saints appearing to be unusually sluggish and struggling to find space in the middle third of the pitch. 

On 11 minutes Ali Worby was forced into a good save from Aaron Drake who got a good head onto an in swinging corner. But a minute later Cleeve took the lead from the penalty spot after Saints were caught square and Bates found himself through one on one with Worby who clipped the striker as he toe ended the ball past him. Kennedy stepped up to calmly convert the penalty.    

Cleeve cleverly controlled the pace of the game taking their time over things and generally frustrating Saints. Walker was having a busy debut and made a good defensive header from a dangerous looking corner. Saints were enjoying good possession but not in areas that hurt Cleeve and it took 28 minutes for them to create a clear cut opening when a good break down the left saw Chris Jordan played in at the far post but the opportunity was snuffled before he could get his shot away. On 35 minutes Cleeves Watts had a strong shot on goal that was well saved by Worby, and 4 minutes later Wright headed a corner agonisingly wide of the left upright. 

Saints were inching themselves back into the game and Ryan Knight and Godfrey both had shots but which did not trouble the keeper. On 44 minutes Cleeve landed a sucker punch when Iddles picked up the ball unchallenged in midfield and split the central defence sending Watts away to stroke the ball past Worby. There was still time for Knight to fire a further shot off target and for an awful tackle on James Watts which saw Iddles shown a yellow card. 

Saints licked their wounds at half time and started the second half with more intent, and although still feeling the effects of the tackle before half time James Watts found space to get a good shot away that was just wide. Cleeve were finding it harder to get forward but when they did they broke at speed and on 55 minutes only a cracking save from Worby kept Saints in the game when he tipped a dipping shot over the bar. 

Cleeve were defending robustly and on 60 minutes Staten made a really poor tackle on James Watts. Staten was also injured and many were expecting that he would receive a red card when he recovered, but the referee saw it only as a yellow card offence. 

Saints were pressing hard now with 20 minutes to go and Kille had a good volley saved by goalkeeper Clayton, although Kille was adjudged offside. On 72 minutes Bates picked up a yellow card for an off the floor tackle that perhaps on another day may have been red.

Saints were building a head of steam and on 74 minutes a great passing move through the left channel saw James Hammond scoop the ball narrowly over the bar followed 2 minutes later by a left foot shot from Hammond that was just too high after excellent approach play by substitute Caleb Chukwuemeka.

 Cleeve broke again on 80 minutes and Kennedy came close with a clever lifted shot. Hammond and Knight then played a lovely one two that saw Knight arrow a shot just wide of goal. To their credit Saints battled gamely and were finally finding their passing range. Knight had a powerful shot saved by Clayton and Watts saw his shot blocked by the defender. Kille then tested Clayton who held firm. Cleeves defending was becoming more desperate and on 90 minutes Wright was booked for stopping Watts in full flight with a tackle more appropriate for Twickenham than a football pitch. 

Cleeve saw the game out and were worthy winners in the end of a relatively even match where Saints shaded the possession and Cleeve shaded the attempts on goal and the number of fouls committed. However the most important statistic was the number of goals scored and in a first half where Cleeve played some fine attacking football they took a stranglehold on the game that Saints were unable to release. Cleeve must be applauded for stopping the Saints finding the net for the first time in 16 games.

 

 

24th November 2018

UHL Hellenic Premier Division

Abingdon United (1) Brackley Town Saints (3) 

SAINTS : Worby, Green (Rema), Brock, Godfrey, Baldwin, Whitmore, Ball, Watts, Knight, Jordan (Hayley), Stott

Subs not used:Wheeler, Chukwuemlka, Kille 

Saints arrived at Northcourt Road with a few injuries forcing manager Gordon Kille to shuffle his pack a little. However this performance showed that Saints have strength in depth and a flexible squad with players that can cover a number of positions. 

 

17th November 2018

UHL Hellenic League Premier Division

Brackley Town Saints (4) Reading City (1) 

Saints, Worby, Whitmore (Baldwin), Brock, Godfrey, Goddard, Ball, Watts, Knight, Hammond (Bowden), Wheeler (Chukwuema). 

Subs not used : Jordan, Haley. 

Another sparkling Saints performance despite falling behind to a Reading side containing a good mix of experience and youthful enthusiasm. Saints made a few changes to personnel bringing in Scott Whitmore at right back, and giving young Alex Wheeler from the U18’s his Saints debut on the left side of midfield. Joe Ward returned at centre half.

 

10th November 2018

Bluefin Sports (UHL) Supplementary Cup

Cirencester Town Development (1) Brackley Town Saints (3) 

Saints: Worby, Middleton L (Green), Ball, Brock, Godfrey, Goddard,Stott, Watts, Knight, Hammond, Kille 

A very entertaining game which was in the balance for much of it but which Saints fully deserved to win. Both teams had a number of U18 players involved with Saints giving a full debut to Lewis Middleton at right back. 

 

7th November 2018

Hillier Senior Cup – Quarter Final

Desborough Town (0) Brackley Town Saints (2) 

Saints: Worby, Brock, Stott, Godfrey, Goddard, Ward, Watts, Ball, Hammond, Kille, James

Subs: Bowden, March, Thompson, Middleton L 

Not a vintage performance but Saints had too much on the night for a spirited Desborough side and now look forward to a very local derby in the Semi-Final against Brackley Town FC. 

Dan Middleton pulled up in the warm up so George Ball slotted in at right back. Saints were sluggish in the early exchanges and sloppiness on the edge of the area saw Desborough come close with a close range header. In the 9th minute Ali Worby had to be alert to get down well to turn a shot from Lamar Parkes around the post. It was all Desborough and Worby was again tested after a clever short corner routine. 

 

3rd November 2018

UHL Hellenic League Premier Division

Fairford Town (2) Brackley Town Saints (1) 

Saints: Worby, Stott, Brock, Godfrey (Bowden 75), Goddard, Ward, Ball (James 62), Watts, Jordan, Hammond, Kille

Subs not used: Middleton (L), March, Thompson

Any unbeaten run must come to an end at some time. It would be nice to feel that it came to an end after a closely fought free-flowing fantastic game of football, but this was not that. It was a bitty, untidy game, punctuated by stoppages and played on a hard bobbly pitch with a strong wind blowing straight down the ground. Saints did not surrender their run with a whimper. They tried to play their football, and fought hard until the final whistle but came up just a little short. 

The first half was attritional with lots of stoppages for injuries and fouls and with the ball spending far too much time in orbit. Fairford started strongly. Very direct closing down space quickly and restricting space for Saints to take advantage of. They allowed Saints to hold possession across the back line and squeezed the space in their own half.

 On 8 minutes Dan Bailey’s wind assisted shot from 40 yards was well tipped over the bar by Ali Worby, and from the resulting corner James Watts had to clear off of the line to prevent what would have been an own goal off of the shoulder of Joe Ward. Fairford were strong into the tackle and twice in the early stages there were lengthy stoppages after strong challenges on Watts, who was visibly shaken after a nasty looking boot to the head.

 Even so Saints were gradually easing into the game and good pressing by Ryan Knight and Charlie Kille nearly led to Harrison Ellis in the Fairford goal making a hash of an under hit back pass. A good passage of play after 25 minutes resulted in a James Hammond strike which was too high and minutes later Ellis needed to be sharp off of his line to thwart Knight.

 On 34 minutes a good Saints passing move broke down in the Saints right hand channel just outside the Fairford penalty area. The left back delivered an accurate long ball which speared through the heart of the Saints defence and Jon Thomas showed pace and strength to calmly slot into the corner despite the valiant attempt of Worby who managed to get a hand onto the shot. 

The remainder of the half was more of the same with Fairford continuing to press and squeeze space and with Saints struggling to find the way through, although a corner in the 45th minute from Harry Brock was well delivered to the far post where Olly Goddard just failed to time his run and was unable to direct his header on target. 

HALF TIME – Fairford (1) Saints (0) 

The second half started well for Saints with a great move seeing George Ball set free down the right. His cross to the back post was met first time by Kille who volleyed the ball back across goal towards Stott who stretched with a diving header but he could not quite get to the ball. On 49 minutes good movement again saw things open up for Ball who sprinted unopposed down the right wing but his cross was affected by an untimely bobble. 

Saints were pushing hard and there was a definite feeling that they were gaining the upper hand. However Fairford reminded us of how good they are at direct football when a Saints move broke down and Jack Beardsell collected the ball halfway inside his own half. His 40 yard ball was precise into the space behind Brock and Gudger sprinted to collect. Brock held him up but Gudger cut in and played the ball square to the onrushing Beardsell who’s first time shot was brilliantly saved by the strong hand of Worby. 

Saints were showing lots of energy and the vast majority of the play was in the Fairford half. Ellis was again called to be sharp off of his line, Hammond created space on the left but his shot was again too high and Ball cut in from the right but his left foot shot drifted high and wide. 

Saints changed shape with Owen James coming on to replace Jordan Godfrey. They continued to dominate possession and on 72 minutes Charlie Kille hit a good shot from 30 yards but Ellis was well positioned to save comfortably. Hammond burst free and his lob to the far post was inches away from Stott who again found himself in space. 

Despite being under the cosh for the large part of the half so far Fairford increased their lead on 74 minutes. A long ball from the left back area was flicked on to Jon Thomas who burst through to smash a shot from just outside the box against the bar. The rebound came back to Thomas on the edge of the box where he used his strength to win and retain the ball, move forward and fire past Worby with his left foot. A cracking centre forward finish. 

Saints claimed offside and to many it was clear that although Thomas was not offside when the initial pass was made he looked very much offside when his fellow attacker flicked the ball on. It appeared that the linesman thought that the flick was by a Saints defender.  Earlier in the season against Wellingborough exactly the same thing happened. On that occasion the ref consulted with his linesman and Saints got the decision. On this occasion the officials would not/did not consult and the goal was given. Some you win, some you lose. 

To their credit Saints were stung but they did not give up. On 78 minutes they won yet another free kick this time just outside the Fairford box. Watts kick caught the end of the wall looped up and over Ellis, but hit the bar and bounced down and under the keeper. Cue an enormous scramble during which Stott claimed that he had forced the ball over the line, and Fairford were appealing for a foul on Ellis. Eventually the linesman flagged. Saints celebrated in the belief that they had scored, but it was adjudged to be a foul. 

Saints were throwing caution to the wind and introduced Josh Bowden to have 3 centre forwards on the pitch and the action was now centred in and around the Fairford penalty area. On 83 minutes Hammond picked up a clearance from another free kick and his shot was deflected away for a corner from which Stott was clearly impeded and pushed by Fairford substitute Callum Preece and the ref correctly awarded a penalty. Knight stepped up to confidently roll the ball past Ellis. 

Could Saints find an equaliser in the last 5 minutes? Nearly. A long corner to the far post fell for James who lifted a cross from the left side of the area and which came back off of the cross bar. Stott was again on hand to fire the rebound goalwards but which was blocked on the line and cleared. A further corner was headed back across goal by Bowden and the ensuing melee saw the ball end up in the net although the referee had already blown for a foul. There was time for one more corner and a Bowden header unfortunately straight at Ellis. 

Not a great game by any standard, but plenty of talking points. Fairford were rightly delighted with their victory. They battled hard, frustrated the Saints and took their goals very well. It is too easy to say that Saints were not at their best. Probably more exact to say that they were not allowed to be at their best with a combination of a passionate display by Fairford and a tricky playing surface that meant that 2/3 touches were needed rather than the usual 1 or 2. Even so Saints battled right to the end and with a little more luck might even have snatched a draw from a difficult afternnon.

 

 

31st October 2018

UHL Hellenic League Premier Division

Brackley Town Saints (2) Binfield FC (1)

 

Saints: Worby, Stott, Brock, Godfrey, Goddard, Ward, Ball (Steele), Watts, Jordan (James), Hammond, Kille (Green)

Subs not used: Middleton, March 

Saints extended their unbeaten run in thrilling fashion extending their lead at the top of the table to 7 points and having taken 22 of 24 available points in the month of October. Their last league defeat was against Binfield in the reverse fixture early in September so Saints were well aware that they would need to be at their very best on a fantastic night for football on what must be the best playing surface in this and many other leagues.