Saints left frustrated after letting two-goal lead slip

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Brackley Town’s indifferent run of form continued with a 3-3 draw at Histon on Saturday despite leading 3-1 heading into the final seven minutes.

A youthful Histon side proved tenacious opponents at the Glassworld Stadium, scoring two late goals to grab a draw. Despite that disappointment, plus the home draw with Leamington on Boxing Day, Saints remain in the top five and only three points off top after fellow promotion rivals also dropped points.

Afforded too much space just yards from goal, Steve Diggin gave Saints an early lead, converting Glenn Walker’s eighth minute corner.

The Stutes enjoyed some success down the right with Nick Freeman lively and Omar Beccles a threat in the air at set pieces, but it was Brackley that created the goal chances. Izak Reid found plenty of space on the left and saw his shot well saved on 15 minutes before Glenn Walker was fouled on the edge of the penalty area just after the half hour. With Walker and Reid standing over the ball, it was Charlie Griffin who planted a side-footed effort neatly over the wall and past the rooted keeper Calum Kitscha to find the bottom corner of the goal for a 2-0 lead.

Saints were comfortably in the driving seat as an inexperienced Stutes side toiled with little penetration.

A Histon goal transformed the match, however, as Andrew Phillips’ 51st minute effort following a free-kick brought the hosts right back into the match.

Buoyed by the goal, Stutes three times went close in the space of a few minutes as Claudio Hoban went wide, Eugene Libertucci’s header was close, and substitute and leading scorer Lewis Taaffe’s fine shot brought an equally impressive save from Billy Turley low to his left.

Saints fought back, regaining their composure, and twice threatened with Diggin touching the ball on for an overlapping Reid to burst through only to find the post with his shot and Diggin beating the defender but shooting inches wide as the keeper narrowed the angle.

On 66 minutes, it was left back Eddie Nisevic’s turn to drive into the danger zone and fire in a low shot that beat Kitscha and found the corner of the net to restore the two-goal lead.

The game looked all but won for Brackley as both managers made substitutions as players tired on the heavy pitch but Histon were not done and staged a late rally.

Nisevic cleared off the line from Beccles’ header before Turley tipped Taaffe’s shot over the bar conceding a corner from which Nathan Hicks drilled a shot narrowly wide as Saints came under mounting pressure.

With eight minutes remaining, Saints conceded a penalty that substitute Kaine Sheppard coolly converted sending Turley the wrong way and in the 90th minute Matty Waters, who had been on the pitch just five minutes, sent the home supporters into ecstasy heading home in a goalmouth scramble following a corner.

Stutes’ Peter Grant suffered a head injury that delayed proceedings and added to the three minutes of additional time already allowed by the officials and when play resumed only another scramble in Turley’s goal kept the scores level at full time.

Brackley take on Leamington on New Year’s Day.

Brackley Town: Turley, Reid, Nisevic, Odhiambo, Cartwright, Austin, Story (Towers 80), Solkhon, Griffin, Diggin (Newton 68), Walker.

Histon: Kitscha, Clerima, October, Beckles, Grant, Libertucci, Freeman (Sheppard 70), Hicks, Phillips, Clunan (Taaffe 50), Hoban (Waters 82).

Referee: Neil Hair

Attendance: 408