Gudger grabs the winner as Saints move into top six

Alex Gudger grabbed the winner for  Brackley Town at Stalybridge Celtic

Alex Gudger grabbed the winner for Brackley Town at Stalybridge Celtic

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Brackley Town have enjoyed life on the road this season and they’ve had to, having covered more than 700 miles in the past 18 days.

Their latest trip saw them return from Stalybridge Celtc with three more Vanarama National League North points on Tuesday.

Alex Gudger grabbed the only goal of the game as Saints bounced back from their first away defeat of the campaign, Saturday’s 2-1 reverse at Bradford Park Avenue.

Tuesday’s game was hardly a classic but Saints got the job done, recording a fifth away win of the season. That saw them return to the top six in the league table for the first time since early September and with two games in hand on their rivals.

Gudger returned to the side after illness but the unwell Jimmy Armson was missing so Shane Byrne linked up with Matt Lowe in midfield. Former Banbury United and Luton Town winger Kynan Isaac was on the bench, having signed from Oxford City.

The only goal came in the 37th minute after Byrne’s shot was deflected for a corner. The ensuing goalmouth scramble saw Gudger bundle the ball over the line to give Saints a deserved lead.

In a first half dominated by the visitors, Steve Diggin fired just wide, Lee Ndlovu had his effort ruled out for offside and Gudger also went close.

In the second half, Stalybridge briefly mounted some pressure of their own with a string of corners but rarely called keeper Laurie Walker into action.

But Saints had more chances, Ndlovu’s header was denied only by the post from Byrne’s cross and a trade-mark mazy run by Ellis Myles brought a shot driven just wide as Saints pressed for a second goal.

That was not to be but Gudger’s solitary first half goal was enough to secure three points, condemning Celtic to their bottom three spot while Saints leap-frogged FC Halifax, Stockport County and Salford City right to go into the mix.