Charlie Griffin’s second half strike was enough to give 10-man Brackley Town a battling 1-0 victory at Harrogate Town that keeps them unbeaten in the Skrill Conference North.
Returning to Harrogate’s CNG Stadium almost after the 6-1 mauling of last season, Jon Brady’s side never got into their stride in a very poor first half and reached the interval grateful to be on level terms, before a complete transformation after the break saw Saints come away with the three points.
Brady said: “Sheer hard work and persistence kept them out. To a man I thought we were incredible second half. We clawed for the inches to defend that lead today against a team that are the galacticos of this league.”
Failure to convert three fine first half chances cost Harrogate Town dear, and Saints came out from the break on the front foot to grab a 47th minute lead as Griffin stabbed home from a corner and the home side was unable to breakdown a Brackley side reduced to ten men on 53 minutes with the dismissal of Tom Sharpe.
Saints were under pressure from the start and, on 10 minutes, had a double let-off as Ashley Worsfold was through one-on-one but his shot found the post and Liam Hardy following up drove wide of a gaping goal, as Saints’ defending was lethargic in a goalless first half.
But the half time break worked wonders for the visitors as they emerged from the second half a different team and immediately went ahead when Glenn Walker’s corner was headed on by Brett Solkhon and Griffin applied the finish to give Saints an unlikely lead.
With Harrogate still reeling, Brackley lost Sharpe to a straight red card as the last defender bringing down an attacker.
Try as they might Harrogate could find no way through, however, and Saints remained determined to the last to see out a memorable win.
The FA Cup returns to St James’ Park this weekend as Saints host Gresley in the second qualifying round.
Brackley: Turley, Nisevic, McDonald, Odhiambo, Sharpe, Austin, Reid, Solkhon, Griffin (Mulligan 86), Diggin (Towers 54), Walker.