Ardley see off Saints to maintain their excellent return

Ardley United's Troy Bryan takes on Brackley Town Saints duo Ellis Minnott and Lewis Baldwin
Ardley United's Troy Bryan takes on Brackley Town Saints duo Ellis Minnott and Lewis Baldwin

Ardley United’s hot December streak continued as they took all three UHLSport Hellenic League points against Brackley Town Saints in the Boxing Day Derby.

Goals from Carl Tappin, Elias Katsoloudi and substitute Troy Bryan earned Ardley a 3-1 victory after Matt Hammond had got Saints back into the contest. Ten points from a possible 12 in December has seen Ardley rise to 13th as they now look to build on their renaissance under Paul Davis and close the gap on the teams above them.

The home side adapted to the testing conditions better in the first half of the premier division clash as they forced the visitors to defend for long periods although chances were relatively few. Ardley took the lead in the 16th minute when Ade Talabi headed on Lewis Strafford’s cross to Carl Tappin who wrong-footed his marker before firing past Dan Farrell.

Five minutes later, Reece Bayliss almost increased Ardley’s lead when he put in a high ball which would have dropped into the net but for Farrell’s second touch. The visitors rarely troubled Ardley keeper Kieran Beesley until just before the break when Dan Wilkin broke on the left but his pass to Logan Kelling was just astray, enabling the home defence to clear.

Saints supporters were hopeful that with their team playing down the slope in the second half they would get themselves back into the game and five minutes after the restart those hopes seemed well founded. Wilkin’s free-kick from 25 yards out was finger-tipped on to the post by Beesley but Matt Hammond reacted fastest to head the rebound past the grounded keeper.

Despite losing their advantage, Ardley still enjoyed the greater possession and looked the more likely to score although Saints were defending manfully. But in the 63rd minute Jacob Daffern was brought down in the box, Elias Katsoloudi saw his spot-kick saved by Farrell but he got to the rebound first to slot the ball past the keeper at the second attempt.

A raft of substitutions by both sides did not affect Ardley’s dominance as the newly introduced Troy Bryan and Lewis Hayden continued to cause problems for the Saints’ defenders. Late on, Hayden headed just wide before Bryan turned from Ryan Markham’s pass and ensured the points for Ardley when his deflected shot ended up in the back of the net.