Brackley Town are gearing up for the visit of Premier Division leaders AFC Totton this Saturday to St James Park after grabbing a 1-1 draw at newcomers Frome Town last weekend.
Both sides left with a point in a result that fairly reflected the balance of play and chances created in this tight encounter.
If Brackley shaded the first half on chances and grabbed a glorious opening goal through the shooting boots of winger Tom Winters, it was a bizarre incident on 24 minutes that had the fans talking at half-time.
Saints’ attack was flagged offside by the referee’s assistant but play was waved on by referee Matt Rushton only for Frome centre back and captain Jamie Cheeseman to catch the ball in his penalty area.
The referee awarded a penalty and the ball was placed on the spot before Frome protests brought hurried consultations between officials and the decision was reversed much to Saints’ consternation and spectator derision.
Winters’ fourth goal of the season had come on 20 minutes and was of the highest quality, his drive unleashed from 25 yards and unstoppable.
For the home side Ricky Hulbert and Dean Evans both found themselves in good positions but shot well wide of keeper Jon Bond’s goal before Bond was forced into a fine one-on-one save with Hulbert on 34 minutes as Brackley succumbed to Frome’s long ball game.
The second half was again an even contest but it was the Somerset side who found the net to level, full-back Josh Brigham heading on a free-kick fired in from the right on 67 minutes looping beyond Bond high to his right. In the closing stages it was Bond who was the busier keeper as Frome twice threatened to claim all three points.
First wideman Kyle Tooze hit a fine shot that needed Bond’s careful attention low down, before in added time Brigham surged forward to strike a splendid effort just too high.
At the whistle a draw was the right outcome from a game that never quite hit the heights and that neither side did enough to win. The point leaves Brackley in second place in the league ahead of Saturday’s mouth-watering home clash with Totton, kick-off 3pm at St James Park.
Brackley Town: Bond, Clifton, Myles, Palmer, Willmott, Magunda, Story (Sandy 75), Solkhon, Louis (Diggin 57), Chennells (Green 57), Winters.
Frome Town: Chitty, Brigham, Reaney, Flockton, Cheeseman, Smith, Tooze (Lapham 91), Evans, Hulbert (Benison 75), Perrott , Thomson (Ballinger 71).