Wilkin looks for Saints to maintain excellent start

Brackley Town Kevin Wilkin manager saw his side thwart the joint leaders
Brackley Town Kevin Wilkin manager saw his side thwart the joint leaders

Brackley Town boss Kevin Wilkin will be looking for his side to maintain their excellent start when they entertain Tamworth in Tuesday’s Vanarama National League North clash.

The division’s two unbeaten records remained in tact as Saints returned from Harrogate Town with a 1-1 draw in a fiercely competitive and high tempo game on Saturday.

The goals came at the start of the game with Saints taking a third minute lead only to be pegged back by the home side seven minutes later. Thereafter, while both sides sought the next goal, both keepers enjoyed relatively untroubled afternoons as defences were on top.

“It was a fair result,” said Kevin Wilkin.

“I am disappointed we didn’t hold onto our lead for longer and it took us a while to adapt fully to the surface but we did. Neither keeper really had a shot to save and there weren’t too many open chances.”

The game burst into life with Aaron Williams’ first goal for his new club after excellent work on the left by Lee Ndlovu. He sought to squeeze his shot in between keeper James Belshaw and the post but it rebounded for on-loan Newport County striker Williams to blast into the net from close range.

Despite the early set-back, Harrogate were soon back on level terms. A shot by Jordan Thewlis came back off the bar and it was played back into the danger zone by George Thomson where Joe Leesley was on hand to steer the ball past Danny Lewis.

Shane Byrne’s free-kick went close, Ndlovu’s toe-poke was just wide and Glenn Walker’s shot was blocked while Harrogate enjoyed plenty of possession but without troubling Lewis. Saints lost Jimmy Armson to injury with Jack Byrne replacing him late in the first half.

It was more of the same after the break as Saints started well, pressing the home side. Adam Walker’s goal-bound shot was charged down and Jack Byrne’s effort was deflected just over.

Harrogate also threatened and a clearing header by Luke Graham and an intervention by Ellis Myles kept the score level. Perhaps the clearest chance fell to Harrogate’s Thomson but he fired too high as defenders closed down the space.

“Our front two worked their socks off,” added Wilkin.

“Aaron got his goal, he is a poacher and outside that works very hard for the team. We have to be adaptable in a game like this.

“We didn’t have it all our own way and did not have as much possession as we are used to. Harrogate are the division’s top scorers and we prevented them creating many opportunities.

“Losing Jimmy [Armson] was a blow but Jack [Byrne] came on, he settled us down and had a great game. Matt Lowe came on and was important for us too.

“We look forward now to another tough game on Tuesday. These are the challenges we want.”