Wilkin admits play-off push may have runs its course

Brackley Town's Matthew Barnes-Homer is closed down by Boston United's Tom Batchelor and Nat Brown
Brackley Town's Matthew Barnes-Homer is closed down by Boston United's Tom Batchelor and Nat Brown

Brackley Town boss Kevin Wilkin has all but conceded that his side’s play-off push is over.

Saints head to relegated Altrincham for Saturday’s Vanarama National League North clash on the back of two stalemates.

A draw against Halifax isn’t a bad result but we needed to win the game to have any chance of making the play-offs

Saints manager Kevin Wilkin

Both came at St James Park where FC Halifax Town went away with a point on Tuesday.

A second stalemate in four days saw Saints remain in eighth while Halifax missed the chance to go second. Both sides drew a blank in a game that produced few chances but was absorbing from beginning to end.

An impressive first half performance by Saints denied the visitors any sight on goal and twice came close to finding the opening goal.

Ironically for Saints, both chances came to defender Luke Graham, the first when his header looped up and on to the bar with the Shaymen’s on-loan keeper Sam Johnson beaten. The best chance also fell to Graham after half an hour but Johnson got his body in the way and Glenn Walker’s follow up was also saved.

Some of Saints’ attacking play was exciting with James Clifton and Walker exploiting the channels and Steve Diggin and Lee Ndlovu seeing plenty of the ball as the front pairing. The half ended with some robust challenges from the visitors as frustration took hold at their inability to gain possession or pose any threat.

Saints began the second period brightly again but a change of formation by Halifax effectively shut down the opportunities for the home side’s wing backs. That also closed the game down so that much of the play was concentrated in the middle of the pitch.

Halifax also came more into the game as an attacking threat and had two fine chances to take the lead. Liam King’s cross from the right sought out Richard Peniket whose header was inches wide of Laurie Walker’s right-hand post.

With ten minutes remaining Halifax should have broken the deadlock but Scott Garner shot over from close range.

Both sides defended stubbornly, Saints denying leading scorer Tom Denton any opportunity throughout and a well marshalled Halifax defence gave little away. Frustrating as it was, it was nevertheless a fine contest of high quality between well-matched sides and it leaves both teams with plenty to play for in the remaining five games of the season.

Wilkin said: “It’s disappointing, given our position at the turn of the year, not to be in contention for the play-offs.

“We haven’t scored enough goals and that has cost us points. If we had six more points on the board from the last two games we would still have a chance.

“A draw against Halifax isn’t a bad result but we needed to win the game to have any chance of making the play-offs. Even if we win our remaining five games I don’t think it will be enough now.”