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.
The early exchanges were tight as both sides sized each other up. But it was immediately clear that this was going to be a thoroughly entertaining game with Saints pace and clever movement coming up against Binfield’s strength and know how.
Charlie Kille fashioned the first attempt on goal after 6 minutes battling through a couple of challenges but drifting his right foot shot wide of the post. Binfield had not come to defend and both full backs were pushing on with left back Charley Tuttle prominent. On 10 minutes a snapshot by Josh Howell was well pushed aside by Worby. From Saints point of view the open game allowed them to test Binfield 2 or 3 times on the break although the final ball into the area failed to find a Saints player on each occasion, although from one Chris Jordan just failed to connect with a header and when the ball ran through to Kille he was quickly closed down before he could get a shot away.
On 15 minutes James Hammond was set free cleverly by Jordan and burst into the right side of the penalty area. He cut inside and jinked past 2 or 3 defenders but his left foot shot cleared the bar. Binfield were guilty of a couple of spicy last ditch tackles around their penalty area but Stott and Godfrey were unable to conjure anything from the resulting free kicks.
Binfield won a couple of corners and looked to capitalise on a couple of free kicks unnecessarily conceded in dangerous positions. But defensively Saints looked solid with Ali Worby not slow to come and punch and with Ollie Goddard and Joe Ward winning aerial battles.
At the other end Hammond burst free and was one on one with Chris Grace the Binfield keeper who saved well with his legs. The ball ricocheted to Jordan so quickly that he was unable to control his follow-up shot which crept wide.
Saints were in the ascendancy, but Binfield had a purple patch just before half time with Tuttle on the end of a fine passing move and his shot struck the outside of Worby’s upright. Brock was then adjudged to have fouled the Binfield winger and from the resulting free kick Worby was well placed to push the ball over the bar.
Half Time - Saints (0) Binfield (0)
Saints started the second half strongly and on 52 minutes took the lead. A patient build up led to James Watts bursting out of midfield and his pinpoint pass set Hammond free through the left channel. His pace took him away from his defender and he angled a powerful drive past Grace into the bottom corner (1-0 Saints).
The lead lasted only 3 minutes with Binfield taking full advantage of a momentary lapse in the Saints defence with Sean Moore nicking the ball and skilfully shooting over the stranded Worby from 30 yards (1-1).
Saints showed their resolve and George Ball ended a mazy and skilful run with a shot from a tight angle that Grace did well to keep out.
The referee had been hard on ‘gone to ground tackles’ throughout the game and on 69 minutes Liam Gavin was shown a second yellow following a tackle that the ref did not like the look of. Inevitably Saints mobility stretched Binfield further and 5 minutes later James Watts, Hammond and Harry Brock exchanged passes and fed the ball to Jordan Godfrey who had found space in midfield. He threaded a perfect ball back to Watts who had a lot to do but he held off a couple of challenges before firing past Grace (Saints 2-1).
Binfield continued to concede free kicks around their own penalty area and Kille was close to increasing the lead with a left foot curler over the wall. With 15 minutes still remaining and with only a 1 goal margin Saints could not afford to relax. A third goal would make all the difference and Godfrey breaking free on the right side of the box tried to square to find the unmarked Jordan but the Binfield defender stretched and managed to divert the ball to safety.
In the main Saints played the ball around calmly and confidently but on 87 minutes it nearly went horribly wrong when possession was lost on the right wing just inside their own half. Binfield worked the ball well down the wing and into the Saints area to a position where any tackle needed to be perfect. The ball was played back to James Knight on the edge of the 6 yard box he jinked left and with a clear sight on goal scuffed his shot which Worby was able to collect with ease.
After that scare Saints settled and managed to retain possession, seeing out injury time to secure a well-deserved 3 points. The 75 spectators watching the game were well and truly entertained, and with the game very much in the balance at all times both teams should be applauded for their efforts.