Brackley completed a double over their Oxfordshire neighbours in a match that will be remembered for the degrees of coldness rather than for the content of the game. In a decent Bank Holiday crowd of 268, the home side were forced to concede to very early corners, both of which came to nothing.
To add to this, the long throws of Andy Ballard were also dealt with first by Tom Kemp and then by Chris Willmott.
The home side finally produced a worthwhile attack when Owen Story eased past Ballard and fired in a dangerous cross that Franny Green could not take in his stride and the chance went begging. Tom Winters was dumped on his backside by former Saint Wayne Blossom, but the free kick from Jamie Gould lacked and power and was cleared away to safety.
City tried to catch Brackley on the break and Billy Turley in the home goal had to make a smart save and give away a corner from the lively Liam Malone. The resulting cross was comfortably saved under his crossbar by Turley. The home supporters were getting frustrated with Brackley inability to score the opening goal, and another former Saint, Craig McIlwain was yellow carded for a crude challenge on Gould.
The second period saw Brackley playing with a lot more care as the passes were crisp and concise.
A good run and cross by Owen Story on 55 minutes evaded all of the Oxford City defence and the keeper and Franny Green arrived perfectly at the far post to slide the ball into an unguarded net. Moments later the miss of the season again saw Winters wriggle through the visiting defence and play a delightful ball into the six-yard box, where an unmarked Owen Story was waiting.
Somehow though, from barely three yards out, Story ballooned the ball hopelessly over the bar when it would have been easier to score. At the other end, a beautiful volley from Malone looked destined for the corner of the net, but Turley produced the save of the afternoon to palm it for a corner. A ball over the top saw City’s Ashley Kington and Billy Turley clash in heaps in the home penalty box. As both players lay injured, City put the ball into the home net and celebrated the goal and lined up for the re-start.
But referee Daniel Leach gave Brackley a free kick for the challenge on Turley, much to the annoyance of the City players and management. As time went into injury time another save from Turley and some desperate defending by Willmott and then Kemp saw the play away from the Brackley goal and up field.
The relief at the final whistle was there for all to see as Jon Brady’s men made a winning, if not unforgettable start to the New Year. With Elliot Sandy re-joining the club from Oxford City, manager Brady has added a class player, who when fit and on his day, is a complement to the squad of players at his disposal. A winning start and the first clean sheet since the home win against Tiverton back in the middle of November. Manager Brady will be looking for his side to record back-to-back wins on Saturday when Cirencester Town, who Brackley beat 3-0 back in October, are the visitors.
Brackley Town. Turley, Magunda, Blackwood, Quinn, Willmott, Kemp, Story, Palmer, F. Green, Gould (Thomas 54), Winters. Subs not used ;- Dempsey, Clifton, Ayris, Peyton-Brukl.
Oxford City. Jesionkowski, Clarke, Ballard, Savage, McIlwain, Blossom, Lyon, Malone, Anderson, Steele, Kington. Subs. Mekki, Morris, Dobson, Pritchard, Davis.