Brackley Town came away with a deserved win on their second ever visit to Vauxhall Motors’ Rivacre Stadium as Stefan Moore continued his impressive scoring record in a 3-0 victory.
In front of a sparse crowd of just 146 on a chill, grey afternoon on Merseyside, Saints got their promotion challenge back on track as Moore’s brace plus an own goal sees Jon Brady’s men up to fourth in the Conference North.
Motors’ captain Tom Hannigan was red carded on 35 minutes for hauling down Moore with the striker through on goal, and Moore dispatched the resulting penalty, sending Zac Jones the wrong way to double a lead Saints had carried after a bizarre 19th minute own goal.
The breakthrough arrived when the home goalkeeper’s attempted punched clearance from Glenn Walker’s in-swinging corner only cannoned into the hapless Karl Clair and ricocheted into the goal. From that moment on it was an uphill task for the home side, who are winless in 2014.
For Jones it was an unhappy afternoon that began with an eighth-minute let-off as the eager Gary Mulligan, returning for his first start for six weeks, chased down a back-pass to charge down Jones’ clearance with the ball flying just wide.
Motors’ misery was complete on the hour when an ill-judged cross-field pass by left-back Wainwright caught Jones too deep allowing the alert Moore to intercept, advance on the keeper and find the net through his legs to put the result beyond any doubt.
A short period of sloppy play by Saints brought chances that the home side should have taken to get off the mark as, first, Karl Clair was allowed time to hit a fierce shot from 25 yards that Turley repelled and Carl Noone put wide following up, before Danny Fearnehough saw his effort well saved by Turley.
Saints steadied themselves to regain complete control and claim the points that takes them to fourth spot as those around them at the top faltered.
Brackley host bottom of the table Workington this weekend.
Brackley: Turley, Reid, Nisevic, Towers, Sharpe, Austin, Story, Solkhon (Bridges 84), Moore (Mills 67), Mulligan (Diggin 64), Walker.
Subs not used: Odhiambo, Cartwright.
Vauxhall: Jones, Wainwright, Barnes, Hannigan, Nicholas, Noone, Fearnehough, Clair, Tuck (Silveiro 66), Ellams, Rey (Rutter 57).
Subs not used: Hughes, Martindale, Mendez.
Referee: M Salisbury