Levi strikes to give table-topping Brackley the New Year’s Day honours

Brackley Town kicked off 2023 in perfect fashion as they claimed a 1-0 victory at local rivals Banbury United to move back to the summit in the Vanarama National League North.
Levi Amantchi scores the only goal of the game as Brackley Town won 1-0 at local rivals Banbury United on New Year's Day. Picture by Julie HawkinsLevi Amantchi scores the only goal of the game as Brackley Town won 1-0 at local rivals Banbury United on New Year's Day. Picture by Julie Hawkins
Levi Amantchi scores the only goal of the game as Brackley Town won 1-0 at local rivals Banbury United on New Year's Day. Picture by Julie Hawkins

Levi Amantchi’s first goal for the club since joining from Braintree Town proved decisive as the Saints kept another clean sheet to maintain their long unbeaten run under manager Roger Johnson.

A big crowd of 1,770 were on hand at the Banbury Plant Hire Community Stadium for the return clash between the two rivals after the points had been shared in a 1-1 draw at St James Park on Boxing Day.

A tight first period gave way to a pulsating second half.

Brackley should have gone ahead through a double chance on 65 minutes. Callum Stead was through one on one with keeper Jack Harding who saved well only for Adi Yussuf to see his close range follow up effort blocked on the line by Ben Radcliffe.

But the decisive moment came on 78 minutes when Amantchi tapped in after fine work on the left by Stead who got to the by-line and threaded a pass across goal for the frontman to score.

The goal led into a period of sustained pressure on Danny Lewis’ goal as Banbury pressed but the meanest defence in the league held strong, superbly marshalled by captain Gaz Dean, to claim another clean sheet with Lewis rarely tested.

Banbury’s cause wasn’t helped when captain Giorgio Rasulo saw red for a second bookable offence and Brackley spurned chances to increase the lead as Stead fired over after excellent interplay with Adam Rooney and Amantchi headed too high from Jimmy Armson’s free-kick.

The victory sent Brackley two points clear at the top, although they could be overtaken by Darlington if they win at Scarborough Athletic today (Monday).

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