Brackley Town produced a commanding performance at the weekend to see off second-placed Guiseley 2-0 in the Blue Square North.
An enthralling game enjoyed by a crowd of over 600 saw the visitors steal the show with a performance that fully deserved the three points.
Defending resolutely and working hard for each other, Saints created danger going forward and from either flank and the margin of victory could have been greater.
Edging the first half and taking a 1-0 advantage into the break courtesy of Jefferson Louis’ 28th minute goal, the dismissal of Lions’ striker James Walshaw after just two minutes of the second period gave the home side a mountain to climb. Tom Winters’ 69th minute headed goal extended the lead and Saints never looked back.
The first half saw chances for both sides as Brackley won early corners and Winters’ free-kick tested Steve Drench in Guiseley’s goal while the home side came close through Josh Wilson’s ninth-minute effort and Walshaw’s fierce shot that deserved better than to cannon back from the upright.
With the half hour mark approaching, a scramble in the home goalmouth allowed Louis to pounce and he made no mistake from close range to give the visitors the lead.
Within moments of the re-start, goalkeeper Billy Turley – with the ball in his gloved hands – was fouled by a frustrated Walshaw and the referee had no hesitation in showing a red card, reducing the Lions to ten men.
Saints created chances for the crucial second goal while continuing to deny the home side time on the ball or space in which to play.
Winters ran 50 yards to set up Elliot Sandy but under pressure the tall striker shot just wide before an amazing passage of play brought Brackley two goalscoring opportunities neither of which were converted. Fine work by Sandy created space for Eddie Odhiambo’s shot that hit the post before Louis contrived to miss-kick when well placed.
When the second goal came it was from a forging run by right-back James Clifton, who cut inside to find the perfect deep cross for Winters to head home.
Guiseley won a flurry of late corners but Saints came closest to adding to the score-line in added time when Winters’ run up the left brought a cross that substitute Marvin Robinson looked to have converted for a third goal only for Drench to save with his legs.
Nevertheless, Brackley secured a precious win to close the gap to just four points on Guiseley.
Brackley Town: Turley, Clifton, Nisevic, Odhiambo, Sharpe, Austin, Reid (Story 59), Solkhon, Louis (Robinson 83), Sandy (Mulligan 83), Winters.
Subs not used: McDonald, Diggin.
Guiseley: Drench, Hardy, Meynell, Pearson (Lawlor 75), Ellis, Bower, Holdsworth, Rea (McWilliams 75), J.Wilson, Walshaw, Marsh (Dale 73).
Subs not used: M.Wilson, Giles.
Referee: Ryan Johnson
Assistants: Martyn Rawcliffe and Andrew Cawtherley