Game on for Brackley in the title race

Kevin Wilkin knows “the ball is still in Gateshead’s court” but it’s very much game on again in the race for the Vanarama National League North title.

Thursday, 28th April 2022, 7:21 am
Lee Ndlovu takes the congratulations after he opened the scoring in Brackley Town's 2-0 win at Darlington. Pictures by Glenn Alcock

Having trailed the leaders by four points going into last weekend, Brackley Town came out of it having halved the deficit as they claimed a fine 2-0 win at Darlington, thanks to Lee Ndlovu and a James Armson penalty, while Gateshead were held to a 1-1 draw at Kettering Town.

The Saints are two points behind with three games to go, two of which will be played in the space of 48 hours over the bank holiday weekend.

Brackley host Blyth Spartans on Saturday before heading to Hereford on Monday while Gateshead are at home to Southport and away at Chorley on the respective days.

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James Armson's penalty secured the points for Brackley at Darlington last weekend

And Wilkin knows there is still all to play for, including the fact that one more point will at least guarantee second place and home advantage throughout the play-offs.

“We were obviously disappointed to only come away with one point out of the six at such a crucial stage over the Easter weekend but to bounce back and find that win away from home was great,” the Brackley boss said.

“Wins away from home are hard to come by, especially with Darlington needing the points themselves for their play-off push. It was a fantastic result for us and it keeps it interesting with three games to go.

“Clearly the ball is still in Gateshead’s court but all we can do is worry about ourselves and try to win the remaining three games.

“For the neutral, if you’re looking for the league to be exciting, that’s certainly the case with this one.

“It’s still very exciting for us with plenty to go for. On the one hand you can look up and say we are just a point behind and on the other hand, one more point seals second place for us.

“We are happy to be in this position and we have been there for sometime now.

“We just have to keep going. It’s another bank holiday weekend so the games are coming quickly but that’s the same for everyone.”

Ultimately, the target for Brackley will be to try to win all three of their remaining games and hope it is enough.

That’s a feat Wilkin believes isn’t beyond his players although, as ever, Wilkin won’t allow anyone to get ahead of themselves.

“People looked at it when we beat Gateshead and we got to the top and were saying ‘well, if you win the rest of your games, that’s it’,” the Brackley boss added.

“We knew at that stage it would have been incredible for either side to go and win all their games.

“It’s certainly narrowed down now and that challenge isn’t as large.

“Having to win three games is still difficult but it’s not on the same scale of winning seven back-to-back.

“Everyone will be looking at all the maths but it boils down to us playing a game at a time and then plotting for the next one.”