Brave Saints are sunk by Parker’s late blow

Joe Parker landed the late blow to send Brackley Town home pointless from their Boxing Day clash at Gloucester City.

Saints lost 2-1 at Whaddon Road where Parker hit the stoppage-time winner in Friday’s Vanarama Conference North fixture.

Jon Brady’s side were reduced to ten men after Tom Sharpe was red carded just before the break after a clumsy challenge on former Saints striker Charlie Griffin. They defended doggedly only to succumb at the death when a precious point appeared all but secure.

Saints spurned a golden chance to take the lead when Ebby Nelson-Addy’s low shot was saved by Jasbir Singh before the visitors went ahead in the tenth minute when Tigers captain Jack Harris turned Connor Waldon’s low cross past his own keeper.

In atrocious conditions of driving rain and swirling wind young Dan Farrell, making his league debut in goal, saved well low down from Matt Williams as City increased the pressure on Saints in the closing stages of the first half.

Three minutes before the break Sharpe felled Griffin and the referee had no hesitation in brandishing the red card. Defender Stuart Pierpoint came off the bench for his first appearance with striker David Moyo sacrificed as Saints took the lead into the interval.

The game was in danger of abandonment as the incessant rain poured down onto a saturated pitch that could take no more. The Hazelwoods End goalmouth in particular became a swamp and one corner of the pitch was under water as the rain eased just a little as the players lined up for the second period.

The Tigers were immediately on the offensive bringing a goal-line clearance from Pierpoint before Chris Knowles was first to Billy Jones’ 53rd minute corner, heading home the equaliser.

A scrambled clearance, deflected shot over the bar and flying finger-tip save by Farrell from Parker’s curling effort kept Saints on level terms. But as the clock ticked into the second added minute a shot ended with the ball sticking in the muddy quagmire of the goal-mouth for Parker to stab into the net.