Match Report: Brackley Town Saints vs West Bridgford FC


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12th October 2019

Brackley Town Saints vs West Bridgford FC
FA Vase First Round Proper

Final Score Brackley Town Saints 2 West Bridgford 3 (AET)

West Bridgford travelled to Brackley in Northamptonshire yesterday as they competed in the First Round Proper of the FA Vase for the first time in their history. Victories against Borrowash Victoria and Selston in the preliminary rounds had earned Bridgford this tie against opposition from Step 5.

Bridgford entered the game as big underdogs, and the early stages of the match showed this. An excellent Brackley side immediately took control. In the second minute Fogg made a good save from a one on one but three minutes later could do nothing about a shot from the edge of the area from Knight which followed some lovely link up play from the left, and put Brackley into a deserved lead.

The next 15 minutes saw Brackley dominate, with two or three good chances coming and going.

Around halfway through the half Bridgford started to find a way into the game. A tactical change from manager Doherty saw Bridgford push further forward on to the Brackley defence and this in turn saw chances begin to be created. Hopkinson twisted on the edge of the box and hit a left strike against the bar and Whitehurst was put through behind the home defence and saw his shot well saved by keeper.

Brackley changed their shape to attempt to counter things but without any real success, the remainder of the half being an even affair.

Half Time Brackley 1 West Bridgford 0

The second half started slowly but on 55 minutes the game turned in Bridgford’s favour. Good work down the right from Josh Rae and Ryan Whitehurst saw the ball played in to Joe Terry on the corner of the box, he fed the onrushing Jordan Wheatley, who shifted the ball on to his left side and smashed the ball into the far corner for the equaliser.

Bridgford continued to push and just five minutes later a deep curling cross from the right from Ellis Williamson was spilled by the home keeper to the feet of Ryan Whitehurst. Whitehurst showed fantastic composure to first take the ball around the scrambling keeper before calmly lifting the ball into the roof of the net beyond two defenders on the line. Wild celebrations ensued as Bridgford sw themselves ahead in the game for the first time.

Brackley pushed to get themselves back into the game, whilst Bridgford looked to counter. The game was an excellent watch with chances coming regularly for both sides. Hopkinson went clean through but saw his shot well saved, Rae went close with a free kick from the edge of the box too. For Brackley the lively centre forward twice got shots away but both times fired over, with 10 to go an attempted lob clipped the top of the bar.

As the game entered the dying stages it appeared that Bridgford had done enough to secure a famous victory. However, it was not to be that straight forward. On 89 minutes a long freekick from the halfway line was punted into the area and Goddard got to it ahead of Fogg to head into an unguarded net and level things up at 2-2.
This looked like a body blow for Bridgford who had come so close to pulling off an upset and now had to face up to extra time against their talented opponents.

Full Time Brackley 2 West Bridgford 2

A couple of minutes into extra time came the moment that sums up this Bridgford side and their workrate. A through ball from Brackley released their forward and he was clear on goal. Fogg came out to once again emerge on top in a one-on-one, the rebound fell to Brackley and was again saved by Fogg, again the ball fell to a Brackley player who squared the ball to a player waiting in the centre of the goal, six yards out, who shot goalwards, only for Josh Rae to miraculously slide across the goal line and some how keep the ball out, it again fell to another Brackley player who shot at goal and this time Lee Stevenson threw himself in front of the ball and kept his team in the game. Unbelievable determination from Doherty’s team.

Bridgford immediately countered and Jordan Wheatley wriggled away from two challenges 25 yards from goal and then crashed a shot against the crossbar. On Non-League Day the crowd were being treated to a cracking game of football.

With 5 minutes of the second period of extra time gone, came the moment that was to prove decisive. Tom Batterham did well to find space by the touchline to the left of the penalty area and curled a great cross into the centre. Bijan Pakrouz battled to get a shot away, the ball squirmed free to Jack Oldham 8 yards out from goal and he fired the ball into the top right corner to send Bridgford back into the lead.

The final ten minutes saw Brackley on the front foot trying to force the replay but resolute defending and that never say die team spirit saw Bridgford through to the final whistle and a truly memorable victory.

After Extra Time Brackley 2 West Bridgford 3

Bridgford progress to the Second Round of the FA Vase and keep their Wembley dream alive. A pulsating game of football which could have gone either way, with Bridgford managing to get the win from a fantastic show of both quality and determination. Every Bridgford player stepped up and put in huge performances and they can now look forward to Monday’s draw with great excitement about what this group of players and coaching team can achieve.

What a day!

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