FOOTBALL: Premier Division leaders Brackley Town fought out a 2-2 draw at second-placed AFC Totton on Saturday, but Saints manager Jon Brady will consider it two points dropped after his side dominated the second period.
The majority of the 654 crowd had yet to settle down into their seats in the Southern League contest when the home side went ahead after just 14 seconds of the game.
A hopeful ball played out to the right hand side of the Brackley half found Michael Charles, and as Billy Turley came out of his goal it left Charles with the simple job of lifting it over him and into the empty net to give the hosts a perfect start.
Rattled by the goal, the Brackley defence had several minutes under sustained pressure as the hosts pushed for further goals. Josh Green was booked for a rash challenge on Nathan Jack after just 10 minute and moments later was lucky not to receive another card after another poor challenge.
Not wanting to see his side down to 10 men, manager Brady replaced Green with Tom Kemp after just 17 minutes. Brackley slowly pulled themselves together and a snapshot from 25 yards from Jefferson Louis brought a reflex save from Dan Thomas, a loan signing from Bournemouth on the Friday, in the home goal, acrobatically pushing the dipping ball over the bar for a corner. Brackley were level on 40 minutes with Glenn Walker scoring his first goal for the club, and what a goal it was.
A corner taken by Walker, was only cleared to the edge of the Totton penalty box, and Kemp flicked the ball back to Walker out on the wing. He cut inside the area and unleashed an unstoppable shot across the goal and into the top corner of the net, leaving Thomas standed as it flew past him. Moments later, Thomas again produced an acrobatic save this time to deny a header from Tom Marshall that was heading into the bottom corner.. Right on the stroke of half-time Kemp followed a shot from Louis into the six yard box and managed to scramble the ball into the net, but was flagged offside in what looked a marginal decision.
If the first half started quickly it was almost repeated at the start of the second half as Turley was forced into a smart save to prevent Sherborne putting the hosts ahead. But unlike the first half, Brackley were forcing Totton to defend deep and the runs of Walker and the strangely subdued Story were starting to see Totton hack the ball away to safety. The home keeper again produced a fine save from Walker.
Another loan signing for the home side Charlie Knight broke lose down the left only to fire across Turley’s goal and see no-one gambling on the ball reaching them at the back post.
A run by Story led to a Brackley corner, which Walker whipped to the back post and found the head of Brett Solkhon, who cleverly headed the ball back into the sixyard box, where Elliot Sandy was to power home an unstoppable header from just five yards to give Saints a deserved lead.
Within eight minutes though the home side were level after some poor defending allowed substitute Mark Osman space to reach a hopeful cross and fire past Turley. In the final minutes of the game Jefferson Louis forced a magnificent save out of keeper Thomas, and as the ball was about to cross the line, Jamie Whisken produced a spectacular overhead kick to clear the ball away to safety.
Brackley Town: Turley, Clifton, Nisevic, Palmer, J. Green (Kemp 17), Marshall, Story, Solkhon, Sandy, Louis, Walker.