Despite a strong second half performance, Brackley Town returned from Vanarama National League North promotion candidates North Ferriby United with a 2-1 defeat.
The back-drop to North Ferriby’s tidy ground is the spectacular Humber Bridge. Saturday’s game was no spectacle but was an absorbing and lively encounter between two sides closely matched on the day and ultimately separated by only fine margins.
The Villagers took a slender lead from an even and well fought first half after Danny Clarke fired home in the 21st minute, put through direct from a throw-in in a moment to haunt defenders.
Sam Hornby had pulled off a stunning save to prevent his side going behind early on before Glenn Walker’s fine effort after a spell of pressure was a good riposte from the visitors. The first half corner count of five to three in Saints’ favour illustrated the balance of the first 45 minutes but Ferriby had the crucial goal.
The Villagers began the second period strongly and six minutes after the restart they doubled their lead as Tom Denton started and finished the move heading in Danny Emerton’s cross as the visitors stood off.
For attitude and application second placed United were matched all the way and on the hour mark David Moyo latched onto a loose ball 25 yards from goal and found the top corner right-footed with a dipping effort to reduce the deficit and unsettle the home supporters.
The final outcome was always in doubt and the home win never secure. Denton headed over when well placed to seal the victory and at the other end a frantic last minute goalmouth scramble somehow saw the ball cleared off the line as Saints pressed for the equaliser.
In the final analysis this game between two teams separated by 17 places in the table was settled by key moments at either end while for long spells of the afternoon there was little to choose between two well organised and ambitious sides.
Ferriby’s greater goal threat and sure-footed defending edged the points on what was a great day for last season’s FA Trophy winners as leaders Solihull Moors were trounced 6-0 narrowing the gap at the top.