Brackley Town cruised into the Blue Square Bet North play-off final following an outstanding display at St James Park, where they beat Altrincham 3-0 to go through 4-2 on aggregate.
The biggest ever crowd at St James Park - 1,353 - saw Jon Brady’s side overturn a 2-1 first-leg deficit with first half goals from the outstanding Jefferson Louis, Izak Reid and after the restart from the equally impressive Glenn Walker.
Saints will play FC Halifax Town in next Sunday’s final at St James Park after they beat Guiseley 2-0 to go through 3-1 on aggregate.
Saints got off to a flier and quickly established the upper-hand by penning the visitors deep into their own half.
Glenn Walker fired over before Louis gave Saints the perfect start in the fourth minute. Eddie Odhiambo’s long clearance found the big striker who easily turned Scott Leather, advanced and beat Stuart Coburn with a low drive into the bottom corner from the edge of the box.
All square and game on. Six minutes later Reid went close to making it a dream start when his curling free-kick hit the upright as Saints looked to get their noses in front.
But Saints deservedly doubled their lead in the 25th minute. Gary Mulligan’s header found Reid in the six-yard box and he cut inside Matt Doughty before driving the ball towards the far corner where skipper Shaun Densmore could only help the ball into the roof of the net.
Saints should have increased their lead five minutes later when Louis again raced past Doughty and Leather but his low cross just evaded Mulligan in the six-yard box.
Altrincham were almost back on level terms moments after the restart and twice went close in quick succession. Tom Sharpe cleared a header from Damian Reeves off the line and from the rebound Billy Turley saved from Rodgers.
But Walker increased Saints’ lead in the 55th minute with a goal of the highest quality. Mulligan got to the byeline and pulled the back for Walker to crash home a superb shot into the roof of the net from the edge of the box.
Saints had a lucky escape when Odhiambo handled the ball in the box but the referee deemed it unintentional and moments later Gianluca Havern headed against the bar from Nicky Clee’s corner.
Turley saved from James Lawrie and then did well to block a close range effort from substitute Ryan Brooke and another from Reeves late on but Altrincham left it too late to deny Saints.
Reaction and more on Saints in this week’s Banbury Guardian.