FOOTBALL: Brackley Town returned from Saturday’s trip to St Albans City both frustrated and relieved after a 1-1 draw.
Frustration came from a man-of-the-match performance by St Albans’ keeper Nick Jupp who kept Saints at bay.
Relief came as the home side went close to snatching all three points in a late rally.
Having conceded a poor goal in just the second minute Brackley’s response was one borne of resilience gained from an eleven match unbeaten run.
Saints surged forward putting St Albans’ defence under such pressure that Josh Green’s sixth minute header direct from Tom Winters’ corner seemed inevitable. Brackley dominated the rest of the first half but could n’t find the lead.After a quiet opening to the second half Brackley again found their rhythm to create half a dozen fine chances. On 70 minutes great work by Winters’ and Owen Story set up Steve Diggin who saw two close range shots saved by Jupp before Winters’ twisting run a minute later again found Diggin well placed but his shot slipped just wide of Jupp’s left-hand post.
With time running out, the powerful Jefferson Louis eased past two defenders to strike his shot fiercely but the advancing Jupp again blocked the goal-bound effort. The game entered added time with Brackley suddenly on the back foot.First, a goalmouth melee brought only a free-kick for the home side on the edge of the penalty area as eagle-eyed referee Chris O’Donnell was well positioned to resist St Albans claims for a penalty.
The free-kick was wastefully blasted over the bar before Brackley keeper Billy Turley was called into action to tip over a last minute effort destined to be the winner. Both sides could take great credit for their part in an excellent game. With results elsewhere not going their way Brackley slip off top spot to second but the fine unbeaten run extends to twelve games with next up at St James Park Chertsey Town in the final qualifying round of the FA Trophy on Saturday, kick-off 3pm.
Brackley Town: Turley, Myles, Clifton, Palmer, Green, Kemp, Story, Solkhon, Diggin (Sandy 80), Louis, Winters. St Albans: Jupp, Harriman, Watts, Ijaha, Cutchey, Moran, Shields, O’Leary, Furlong (Bakare 89) Shariff, Hart (Walker 72).