Firsts Go Out Of Fllodlit Cup
Extraordinary Game As Wantage Exit Cup
Brackley Town Saints 5 v 3 Wantage Town (Report from https://en.brackleytownfc.com with Wantage players' names added)
(Wednesday 15th November 2017)
Having gone out of all other cup competitions at the first hurdle Saints, hoping for a change in fortunes, welcomed high flying Wantage Town to a pristine St James Park in the Perpetua Press Floodlit Cup.
Regular attendees at the home of Brackley Town football club are used to late autumn cup drama and Saints and Wantage Town served up an absolute thriller, 8 goals, 4 penalties, 2 scored and 2 saved, a bizarre sending off, and 120 minutes of see-saw, end to end, football that was a credit to the Hellenic League and the game at step 5.
With centre backs Dean March and Joe Ward still absent through injury, skipper Lewis Baldwin started alongside Dan Middleton in the middle of the Saints defence again and young midfielder Keegan Giles partnered James Watts in the centre of midfield. Manager Gordon Kille also brought Khris Oti back in to his starting line-up with Alex Stott dropping to the bench.
Wantage Town started the game quickly and Saints keeper Alastair Worby was called upon to make a smart, low save in the 1st minute.
In this early period Saints were being fully tested by the away sides frantic start but with just 8 minutes gone striker Josh Bowden powered forwards drawing Wantage defenders and the goalkeeper out to stop his run. Saints attacking midfielder Matt Johnson reacted quickest to get to the loose ball and floated a perfect shot over everyone into the goal despite the desperate attempt to clear from the Wantage defender, 1 - 0 Saints.
Stung by the setback the visitors piled the pressure on the Saints goal however keeper Alastair Worby was equal to everything thrown at him particularly when saving a well struck shot from the edge of the box on 19 minutes and 10 minutes later holding on to an attempt from close in after a mazy dribble into the area by the Wantage striker.
When Worby's heroics, and the impressive defending in front of him from Lewis Baldwin and Dan Middleton, couldn't stop the visitors, right-back Sam Bridges pulled off a brilliant goal line clearance to ensure that Saints ended the half on top.
Half-time: Brackley Town Saints 1 v 0 Wantage Town
Saints substitution: Calum Pearce replaces Sam Bridges, 46
In a mirror image of the 1st half Saints stopper Alastair Worby was called on to make another 1st minute save in the 2nd half as Wantage started quickly again.
Saints fought back and only a last-ditch tackle stopped Josh Bowden from a counter attack before Khris Oti fired a shot across the visitors goal and out for a goal kick.
At the midpoint of the half midfielder James Watts drove a shot just over for Saints and moments later the Wantage keeper made a great save to keep his side in the game.
With 70 minutes played the visitors finally got the equaliser, Nick Thorne scoring from a cross from the Saints left side, 1 – 1.
Unfortunately for Wantage, a loss of concentration following their goal was punished when Saints attacked from the restart and a Matt Johnson shot proved too hot to handle for the keeper and he could only push the ball out to Chris Jordan who smashed it back past him to restore Saints lead, 2 – 1 Saints.
Saints substitution: Alex Stott replaces Keegan Giles, 71
Perhaps in an attempt to avoid the mistake made by their opponents Saints made a substitution following the goal thereby slowing down the restart however whilst they were sorting out their self-imposed re-organisation Wantage's Jack Dunmall went straight through and gleefully grabbed a 2nd equaliser in just 4 minutes, 2 – 2.
With Saints now shell-shocked Wantage went in search of a winner and with 10 minutes remaining they were awarded, and scored a penalty by Dunmall, 2 – 3 Wantage.
Saints substitution: Callum Williams replaces Chris Jordan, 85
It is not the way of the youngsters from Brackley to feel sorry for themselves and with just 5 minutes left to save their cup hopes for the season they threw everything at Wantage who, despite defending impressively, couldn't hold out and in the 87th minute the home sides Khris Oti powered a shot past the keeper to level the game, 3 – 3.
With the 90 minutes all but done and players, officials, and fans taking a deep breath in expectation of extra-time what followed was extraordinary.
2 minutes into added time an innocuous disagreement over the return of the ball for a free-kick led to an unexpected, and probably unwarranted, booking for the Wantage keeper. In a moment of complete farce, possibly as a result of something said, the referee then turned and flashed the keeper a second yellow, then the inevitable red card.
Full of astonishment, disbelief, and frustration Wantage replaced the keeper with centre back Bradley Cox and the game restarted with his long kick downfield that ended up in the Saints penalty area where the madness was completed by the award of a last minute, second penalty of the game to the visitors.
The final act of the game then was a straight shoot-out between the Wantage penalty taker Dunmall and Saints impressive keeper and it was Alastair Worby who won the battle making a fantastic flying save to take the game into extra-time.
Full-time: Brackley Town Saints 3 v 3 Wantage Town
Down to 10 men and playing against much younger opponents the extra 30 minutes was always going to be tough for Wantage Town and so it proved.
6 minutes into the first half Saints were awarded their 1st and the games 3rd penalty which was perfectly dispatched into the corner of the goal by skipper Lewis Baldwin, 4 – 3 Saints.
3 minutes into the second period of extra-time Alex Stott ran into the visitors penalty area and beat the keeper to extend the lead, 5 – 3 Saints.
Just to balance things up with 10 minutes left Saints were awarded their 2nd, and the games 4th penalty, and this time it was Wantage's stand-in keeper who pulled off a superb save to deny Josh Bowden the goal his play probably deserved.
Full-time (Extra-time): Brackley Town Saints 5 v 3 Wantage Town
What an incredible evening, roll on Saturday when Saints are again at home in a Hellenic Premier League game against Burnham.
Saints: Alastair Worby, Sam Bridges, Lewis Baldwin, Dan Middleton, Charlie Kille, James Watts, Keegan Giles, Chris Jordan, Khris Oti, Matt Johnson, Josh Bowden
Subs: Dan Farrell (unused), Callum Williams (replaced Chris Jordan, 85), Calum Pearce (replaced Sam Bridges, 46), Alex Stott (replaced Keegan Giles, 70), Tom Kalugin (unused)
Wantage: Curtis Meare, Dan comer, Mark Flanagan, Ben Willoughby (Jim Glover 57), Chris Jackson, Joe Wood (Bradley Cox 65), Jack Heap, Ryan Markham, Steve Robertson, Jack Dunmall, Nick Thorne. Sub n/u: Josh King