Brackley Town crashed to a disappointing 3-1 home loss to struggling Colwyn Bay on Tuesday but still managed to secure a play-off place courtesy of Solihull Moors’ win against Harrogate Town.
Saints were unusually lethargic and lacked any real urgency in a tame affair that was deservedly won by the tenacious and hard-working visitors.
Right from kick-off Saints struggled for fluency while Colwyn were instantly in their opponents’ faces and looked much the hungrier of the two sets of players.
And, though Tom Winters early left-foot effort saved well by Chris Sanna, Colwyn had the first real chance when captain Rob Hopley fired towards goal but Billy Turley tipped over.
The visitors remained on the front foot and grew in confidence before taking a deserved lead on 11 minutes.
The goal came seconds after Eddie Odhiambo had a goal-bound shot cleared off the line as Colwyn broke with Shelton Payne bursting down the left before swinging in an enticing cross that was superbly headed in by Hopley.
Colwyn continued to be the better side and it came as little surprise when they doubled their lead seven minutes later through Jamie Ellison’s well-struck free-kick that sailed into the top corner, giving Turley no chance and putting Colwyn 2-0 ahead inside 18 minutes.
As the match progressed, Brackley grew increasingly frustrated against their stubborn opponents as they struggled to assert their authority in what was fast becoming a fragmented affair.
The visitors continued to look assured and were the team looking like the promotion hopefuls while Brackley struggled to string any passes together as they rarely threatened – only Jefferson Louis and Winters came close with long-range efforts.
It seemed certain Saints would go into half time 2-0 down but a stroke of fortune moments before the break brought the home side right back into the match as Tom Smyth put it into his own net.
After the break, Saints came out with much more purpose with Odhiambo’s powerful strike forcing a good save from Sanna before Louis somehow managed to hit the defender on the line from three years out when it looked easier to score.
Just as it looked Saints were getting on top, they were hit by the killer blow when Ellison controlled with what appeared to be a hand before finishing well into the bottom corner, giving Turley no chance. That goal evidently took some of the momentum out of Brackley as they failed to threaten the visiting goal with only Louis going close when his header was well tipped over by Sanna.
As Saints poured forward, Colwyn were threatening on the break, highlighted by Paul Ennis’ effort that was saved by Turley.
Moments later, Steve Diggin broke through and found himself one-on-one but Sanna rushed out to deny the Saints striker before Gary Mulligan’s snap shot went wildly over from five yards, which summed up a frustrating evening for Jon Brady’s side.
Brackley: Turley (c), Clifton, Sharpe, Austin (Story 68), McDonald, Reid, Sandy (Diggin 45), Odhiambo, Winters, Walker, Louis (Mulligan 81).
Subs not used: Nisevic, Corcoran.
Colwyn Bay: Sanna, Taylor, Lea, Sinclair, Smyth, Crowther (Ennis 60), Evans, Payne (Lampkin 88), Hopley (c), Ellison, Joyce.
Subs not used: Davey, Roberts, Moore.
Referee: Craig Hicks