Saints are sunk by Thirwell’s late winner at Harrogate

Brackley Town manager Kevin Wilkin saw his side sunk by a late goal at Harrogate Town
Brackley Town manager Kevin Wilkin saw his side sunk by a late goal at Harrogate Town

A stoppage-time winner from Paul Thirwell condemned Brackley Town to another pointless return on the road.

Saints put in a fine away performance at Harrogate Town in Saturday’s Vanarama National League clash and deserved something from the 1-0 defeat.

Saints had edged the first half, playing bright football that quietened the bumper Christmas crowd of more than 1,500 and going close to opening the scoring through Tom Winters, Steve Diggin and late on through Eddie Odhiambo as Peter Crook pulled off a fine save. Harrogate went close in the first half when Jack Emmett saw his effort scrambled away for a corner.

Harrogate started the second period more strongly but Saints re-established parity in a well contested encounter that was always tight and kept the packed Wetherby Road stadium guessing until the last.

A superb move by the visitors brought a flashing header from Diggin that shaved the outside of the post before Harrogate spurned their best chance as the ball fell invitingly to left-back Andy McWilliams unmarked who fired over.

Substitute Brendan Daniels hit a free-kick just over in the dying minutes as the home side pressed forward before Harrogate’s final dramatic finish in the fifth minute of stoppage-time when an inswinging corner reached Thirlwell, who touched the ball into the net.

Saints had time only to kick-off again before the final whistle confirmed that the afternoon would ultimately end point-less and frustrating and the long journey home would seem even longer.

Manager Kevin Wilkin summed up the mood and said: “Overall it was a desperate disappointment for everyone. After a long trip in front of a large away crowd we controlled much of the first half but did not take our chances so were susceptible to what happened at the end.

“We should have gained a precious point today and came 30 seconds from doing just that.”