Brackley Town go into Saturday’s home game against basement side Weymouth desperately seeking a win to shore up their faltering 2010/11 league campaign.
Two losses this week, firstly at Stourbridge 2-1 last Saturday, and 4-3 at home on Tuesday against Bashley, have plunged Saints into the relegation zone and set the alarm bells ringing at St James Park.
Against Bashley, Brackley fell to a fifth successive defeat as they were sunk by a last-gasp goal by the Hampshire visitors.
Trailing 2-0 at the break after an insipid first half display Saints came out with renewed vigour and on 53 minutes had pulled a goal back from Carl Palmer’s excellent header from Tom Winters’ inviting free-kick. Within a minute the visitors had restored their two-goal lead as the Brackley defence again made life too easy for Bashley and midfielder Garry Middleton headed home.
A splendid Winters’ strike again narrowed the lead with an hour on the clock, his shot from 15 yards striking the crossbar and post before crossing the line with keeper David Elm rooted. Just five minutes later Francis Green had slid in at the far post to finish a fine move for the equaliser after further good work down the right by Owen Story.
The game was set up for a finale and both sides had chances to win it. Story rounded the keeper on 72 minutes and his shot from an angle crossed the line before it was cleared by a defender chasing back, but the referee’s assistant was behind play and the game continued much to Brackley’s frustration.
As the match entered added time a draw represented a fair return to both sides but, with a sad inevitability that has marked this most disappointing of seasons for Brackley, Bashley had one final twist to add, striker Mark Gamble being put through on goal from the right and netting neatly for his second of the game and the winner.
>>At Stourbridge last Saturday Brackley’s poor run continued as football finally beat the freeze.
On a heavy pitch the home side overcame the loss of an early goal to Brackley left-back Jamie Gould’s deflected shot as they grabbed two second half goals to take the three points.
Brackley made a bright start, scoring after just three minutes as Gould’s fierce effort from distance was deflected past helpless keeper Lewis Solly, and enjoying the better of the first half hour.
As the break approached Stourbridge came into the game and captain Ben Billingham’s free-kick on 40 minutes came back off the cross bar in a warning to Brackley.
It was Stourbridge who started the second half with real attacking intent, immediately pegging Saints back and bringing last ditch saves from Brackley debutant keeper, on-loan Nathan Thackeray, as the visitors rode their luck.
On 65 minutes however the equaliser arrived courtesy of a penalty following Bignot’s goal-line handball, the defender receiving his marching orders. Billingham’s spot-kick was saved but he was first to the re-bound to force the ball home. Within minutes Stourbridge had the lead as Sam Rock finished sharply.
Manager Jon Brady switched to a back three bringing on Tom Kemp for Jamie Gould and Francis Green replacing Anthony Thomas up front with 20 minutes to play as Brackley showed character in fighting back.
Stourbridge had several fine chances to seal the win, the most glaring misses coming from Dovey’s slice on 70 minutes and Drake’s header wide of a gaping goal (81 minutes). Saints too carved out two good opportunities to steal a point as first Francis Green’s excellent pass found Winters whose shot was deflected to safety and, in the last minute, as Winters again found space near goal but could win only a corner.
Brackley Town: Thackeray, Bignot, Gould (Kemp 69), Quinn, Willmott, J Green, Story, Dempsey, Thomas (F. Green 69), L. Green, Winters.