Brackley Town manager Jon Brady was overwhelmed after watching his side produce a magical FA Cup performance to upset League One Gillingham and reach the second round for the first time in the club’s history.
Glenn Walker’s goal midway through the first half was the decisive moment as Saints kept the visitors out with a mixture of brilliant defending and superb goalkeeping from 20-year-old Alastair Worby, who was playing only his second match in a Brackley shirt.
Brady said afterwards: “I don’t think words can do tonight justice. I’m totally overwhelmed, it was a special night, a very special night.
“It’s probably about 187 minutes we’ve outplayed them and to take on an ex-England manager and out-think him, I think tactically we did.
“Fair play to my players for sticking to what we asked for. I felt we got a little loose at the start of the second half so we asked our wing-backs to get out and go touch tight to their wide-men and not give them any room to breathe. And once we locked back onto them and the three in the middle dealt with Bayo [Akinfenwa] and then we dealt with McDonald when they put him on, I thought we looked very solid at the end. Yeah – we rode our luck and Alastair pulled out a special save at the end but that’s what the FA Cup is all about.
“We told them that they’ll be able to remember this for the rest of their lives and be able to tell their kids, their grandkids and bore them with the stories, but they can live with this moment for the rest of their lives. It’s such a special feeling because you can look back and say that you did everything you can do, they all pulled together and did everything they could do.
“I didn’t have to make a sub tonight. I didn’t have to – the 11 stayed on and that’s very special.”
Although Gillingham dominated for large periods on Monday evening, they never really took complete control of the game as Brackley threatened a second goal at times with Walker and Steve Diggin both going close.
The hero was Worby, though, after the youngster pulled off a string of fine saves, including a wonder save in the last minute, to keep Saints ahead until the full time whistle, which kickstarted the party at a jubilant St James Park.
Before the game, Brady said he was keen to take the pressure of the young goalkeeper, adding: “We had a game plan to take the pressure right off the lad. We told people that Darren Collins or an outfield player was to go in goal, then we put him in the FA Trophy at the last minute and that was a confidence builder because he did very well.
“We didn’t defend that well against Leek and conceded a few shots and I think that helped. And tonight was just a very very special performance from him. My god – that save at the end.... that was à la Gordon Banks, wasn’t it? I’d like to see that back on telly, I’ll probably watch it on TV over and over again.
“And now it’s given Billy Turley a question mark! But fair play to Billy, he helped me during the week and coached Alastair. We worked on throw-ins during the week because they throw it in and launch it into the box. We worked on corners against and got people to literally throw him in the net and got other players to protect him and we worked on it and worked on it and worked on it and it paid off.”
Brady also explained why he didn’t allow the BT Sport cameras into the dressing room: “I like to keep everything we say private. We kept the BT Sport cameras out of our dressing room because I didn’t want it to be like a circus and not for the boys to feel like they’re rabbits in headlights.
“I wanted them to focus on the normal preparation. I felt a lot of pressure and the executive producer ring me up in the week to push me to do it but I had to stay firm and say no. Whatever goes on in the changing rooms is constructive and very positive.
“We’ve created something here that’s quite special, a winning mentality. We’ve played four of the biggest games in the club’s history in the last six months, so it’s very special times at the moment.
“Our work-ethic is to come in and train very hard. They’re a unit, no one falls out, if someone falls down we pick them up. It’s a special group of players and Alastair’s come into that group and become a massive part in the last two games.
“I’ve just beaten an ex-England manager and I really enjoyed that!”
Over 1,700 fans turned up at St James Park to witness the historic victory, and Brady paid tribute to the fans.
He added: “It’s a cliché but they were the 12th man tonight. Every little thing we did they lifted with us. It was like a seesaw – they lifted us then we lifted them and it was just such a special atmosphere and it’ll live long in my memory.
“We now have to get Macclesfield watched and it’ll be another tough game, they had a great win over Swindon, but we can’t get carried away. We have a big game against Hednesford and we have to take one game at a time. We’ll enjoy tonight first!”