Six points help Saints to hold on to top spot

Action from Brackley Town (red) v Leamington (yellow).Steve Diggin.'120218M-C116
Action from Brackley Town (red) v Leamington (yellow).Steve Diggin.'120218M-C116
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Brackley Town 2 - Barwell 1

AN excellent first half hour brought Saints a handsome two goal lead on Tuesday night as they maintained their grip on top spot in the Southern League Premier Division.

Brackley carried on where they left off from Saturday’s 3-0 win over Leamington, playing bright, direct football before visitors Barwell fought back to grab the crucial third goal of the half to set up a fine, evenly contested second half that could not add to the goals tally.

Steve Diggin opened the scoring after just six minutes with a well taken goal. The striker gathered the pass in the danger zone, manoeuvring space with close control to fire past the helpless Liam Castle.

Brackley’s second came from a free-kick on 21 minutes and Glenn Walker’s excellent delivery that Brett Solkhon headed firmly into the bottom corner.

Barwell first threatened on 13 minutes as Billy Turley saved well from Nick Green at close range but the two goal margin did not flatter Saints who dominated with Walker and Story running wide, Palmer and Solkhon controlling the midfield battle, Robinson winning everything in the air and Diggin sharp and full of confidence.

With 10 minutes until the break Diggin was flagged off-side as he had the ball in the net from Story’s fine run and shot before Barwell created pressure of their own on Turley’s goal that brought its reward with a 40th minute goal from left-back Guy Sanders, whose crisp shot from 12 yards flew through a crowd of players to beat Turley.

Barwell finished the half strongly setting up a fine second half in which Saints created the better chances but the visitors always threatened a goal of their own.

On 67 minutes substitute Elliot Sandy was played in through the middle and, bearing in on goal was brought down, clearly denied a goal-scoring opportunity by the last defender. Binley referee Andy Fox chose to issue just a yellow card and Story’s free-kick flew just over.

Carl Palmer’s splendid slalom run on 73 minutes beating four men saw the midfielder and Saints Man of the Match test Castle in the Barwell goal before Sandy steered his header wide with Castle rooted after fine work by Story in the clearest chance of the half as the crucial third goal continued to elude an anxious Saints.

Brackley saw out the final moments to capture three vital points to maintain momentum at the head of the pack.

Brackley Town: Turley, Clifton, Nisevic, Palmer, Marshall, Kemp, Story, Solkhon , Diggin (Sandy 65), Robinson (Mulligan 90+1), Walker. Subs unused: Magunda, J.Green, Steele.

Attendance: 146