Charlie Griffin came back to haunt Brackley Town and punish a woeful Saints performance as his goal helped Gloucester City earn a 3-1 victory this evening to further dent Brackley’s promotion ambitions.
After Saturday’s convincing win at Workington, Brackley needed victory to go third and get their season back on track, but they produced a dismal display with the visitors well worth all three points.
The defeat leaves Brackley floundering down in seventh place and in need of a sharp turnaround in form to make a late charge for the play-offs.
With Jon Brady’s side looking to build on Saturday’s win, the opening exchanges were lively as the visitors made a purposeful start, displaying all the confidence of a team on the up with five early corners in quick succession, but the first opening fell to Brackley’s Stefan Moore when he was released by Steve Diggin, but his attempted lob sailed well over Mike Green’s goal.
Although both teams showed early attacking intent, the opening quarter was dominated by poor passing and set-pieces with neither side able to fashion a clear-cut goalscoring opportunity as the two goalkeepers remained untested, Brackley in particular failed to find any rhythm in their play and repeatedly resorted to long balls.
As with many home games in recent weeks, the hosts struggled to get on the ball and dictate play while the visitors enjoyed more possession and territory in the first half hour, highlighted by their increasing corner and free-kick count in the home half.
Despite their lowly league position, Glocuester continued to take the game to Brackley, winning every second ball and putting Saints under continual pressure, although the hosts always seemed comfortable with Griffin thrashing an ambitious volley high and wide, which epitomised the first half as both teams were restricted to speculative long-range efforts.
Following a goalless first period, the second half showed more promise as, six minutes after the break, Jake Gosling had Gloucester’s best chance of the evening when he sliced into the side netting from a narrow angle.
In an attempt to alter the direction of the game, Saints boss Jon Brady brought on new signing Ryan Rowe for his Brackley debut, taking off midfielder David Bridges in the hope his side would carry a greater attacking threat.
The substitution changed little, though, and in fact it was the visitors who then made the crucial breakthrough with a well-worked goal on 56 minutes. Ex-Saints man Griffin was the architect as his exquisite through ball found Gosling through on goal and the winger kept his cool to round Billy Turley and slot home.
The goal brought Brackley to life and at last they began to enjoy a spell in the visiting half with first Izak Reid and then Diggin denied by some last-ditch defending, while Gloucester’s Joe Parker dragged a shot wide.
With Green still yet to make a save, Brackley’s frustrations mounted until eventually they found a way through with Reid curling an effort into the far corner after some hesitant Gloucester defending to bring Saints level.
However, Brackley were on level terms for a matter of seconds as Griffin powered home a bullet header at the far post after a surging run and pinpoint cross from the excellent Parker, before Lewis Hogg sealed the points with a late free-kick that sailed over everyone and went in off the post.
Brackley: Turley, Clerima, Austin (c), Sharpe, Langdon, Reid, Solkhon, Bridges (Ryan Rowe 51), Wallker, Diggin, Moore.
Subs not used: Nisevic, Odhiambo, Story, Mulligan.
Gloucester: Green, Roome, Jones, Coupe (c), Harris, Goddard, Hogg, Groves (Parker 63), Mann, Griffin, Gosling (Hanks 90).
Subs not used: Giglio, Webb, Waldon.
Referee: Simon Barrow