Stefan Moore’s third-minute goal kept Brackley Town’s promotion charge on-track with a slender 1-0 win over rivals Solihull Moors on Saturday.
Despite chances at both ends, Moore’s early goal proved to be the difference between the sides to keep Saints fourth and firmly in contention for promotion at the top of the Conference North.
In a tight game on a sticky pitch, the decisive moment came within minutes of kick-off when Moore picked up a loose pass in the visitors’ half and, as defenders froze, made no mistake from 25 yards to notch his sixth goal in five games.
Both sides came close to adding to the half-time score, Saints struggled to clear from a corner on 20 minutes but survived, while at the other end, a neat back-heel by substitute Izak Reid set up Eddie Odhiambo but his shot was blocked. Glenn Walker’s fine run then created a chance for Moore that was snuffed out by alert defending.
The visitors began the second half brightly, with Ryan Beswick firing just over before fine defensive work by Walker kept Saints’ noses in front.
Brackley twice went close to extending the lead as debutant Remy Clerima, who signed from Histon last week, saw his header hit the post while Reid’s sharp drive flew inches wide.
A contentious moment then saw Steve Diggin’s fine run end with the striker in a heap in the penalty area, but his reward was a yellow card rather than a penalty kick, a decision that caused consternation on the Brackley bench and in the crowd.
With the lead still slender, the game entered its final stages and Saints came under some pressure. Solihull Moors’ chance to level arrived with four minutes remaining as substitute Gary Birch had a free header from a long free-kick but was off target.
Saints manager Jon Brady summed up the game afterwards: “We defended well today and created the better chances. We dug in when we needed to and deserved the win.”
Brackley face another important game this weekend when they go to fifth-placed Boston United.
Brackley: Turley, Odhiambo, Clerima, Towers (Reid 36), Sharpe, Austin, Bridges, Solkhon, Moore (Mulligan 79), Diggin, Walker.
Subs not used: Nisevic, Cartwright, Mills.
Solihull: Singh, Dean, Langdon, Denny (Birch 76), Elvins, Geohaghon, Knights (Gough 62), Fleet (Taylor 70), Angus, Beswick, Blackwood.
Subs not used: English, Birley.
Referee: David Rock