Guiseley manager Steve Kittrick cited the dismissal of striker James Walshaw just after the restart as one of the major reasons his team had failed to beat a stubborn Brackley Town side in this battle of second versus third. That, added to a stuttering performance from his midfield, made the battle even more difficult. “I thought we played well for the first twenty minutes then they grabbed a scruffy goal and our play went a bit flat after that”, said Kittrick. “We spoke at the break about keeping the pressure on, and I thought if we had kept eleven players on the pitch the goals would have come as Brackley began to tire in the last twenty minutes”.
Ironically, the Lions probably had their best spell of the game – having gone down to ten men in the 47th minute when Walshaw needlessly kicked out at keeper Billy Turley who had smothered the ball – when Phil Marsh and Josh Wilson spurned good chances.
The first half had been a fairly even affair, with the home side in the ascendancy early on when Wilson zipped one wide and Rhys Meynell’s cross was cleared off the line before his second cross found Walshaw, who crashed his effort against the upright with Turley beaten. Marsh was also fractionally away from opening his account for the Lions but Walshaw’s cross was just behind him and his header went wide of the mark.
Brackley created two good chances prior to going ahead in the 28th minute courtesy of Jefferson Louis’ close-range effort. Tom Winters shot straight at Steve Drench from six yards out and then the visitors had nobody on hand to convert the same player’s free kick that Drench did well to get a hand to as it bobbled just in front of him. Man-of-the-match Ryan Austin made a timely tackle just before the break as Walshaw bore down on goal.
Brackley should have doubled their lead on the hour when a quick breakaway from a Guiseley corner found Winters, who made ground before slipping the ball to Elliott Sandy who shot well wide with only Drench to beat. But the visitors did seal the win nine minutes later when Winters was again left unmarked at the far post to nod home Brett Solkham’s cross with the home side vainly claiming for the offside.
The introduction of Zack Dale, Andy McWilliams and Jake Lawlor gave the home side some impetus late on, flurry that saw them force five consecutive corners, but the nearest they came was when Mark Bower’s header was cleared off the line, leaving Guiseley to reflect on what might have been.
Entertainment value: ***
Star man: Ryan Austin (Brackley)
Scorers: Brackley – Winters, 28, Louis, 69.
Teams: Guiseley – Drench; Hardy, Meynell; Pearson (Lawlor, 75), Ellis, Bower (Captain); Holdsworth, Rea (McWilliams, 75), J Wilson, Walshaw, Marsh (Dale, 73). Subs not used: M Wilson, Giles
Brackley Town – Turley; Clifton, Nisevic; Odihambo, Sharp, Austin; Reid (Story, 60), Solkham, Louis (Robinson, 84), Sandy (Mulligan, 84), Winters. Subs not used: McDonald, Diggin.
Referee: Ryan Johnson