Play-off heartbreak will only drive Brackley Town boss Wilkin on

Kevin Wilkin insists Brackley Town’s play-off heartbreak will only drive him on in the future.

Thursday, 19th May 2022, 12:13 pm
Lee Ndlovu sits on the St James Park pitch after Brackley Town's play-off semi-final defeat to York City. Pictures by Glenn Alcock
Lee Ndlovu sits on the St James Park pitch after Brackley Town's play-off semi-final defeat to York City. Pictures by Glenn Alcock

Having missed out on the Vanarama National League North title behind champions Gateshead after a back-and-forth race, the Saints suffered more post-season disappointment in the play-offs.

A goal from Lennell John-Lewis proved to be enough to give York City a 1-0 success in the semi-final clash at St James Park in front of over 1,700 fans last weekend.

Brackley were left to rue missed opportunities with their best being a James Armson penalty which was saved by Pete Jameson.

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Brackley manager Kevin Wilkin

It was a bitter pill to swallow for a Saints team who finished clear as runners-up in the final table but York will now battle it out with Boston United for a place in the National League next season.

For Brackley, it will be back to the grind of the National League North in August.

And Wilkin, who has made the Saints a real force in the division in recent years as they continually challenge for honours, fully expects to be at the helm to lead them into the 2022/23 campaign.

“It’s definitely my intention to be here and to come back stronger next season,” the Brackley manager said.

“It’s another season, another phase and everyone will be starting afresh.

“We will be no different to anyone else, just because we have had a strong season this time, it doesn’t mean we are guaranteed to do it again.

“There will always be changes with players leaving and others coming in.

“Over the last five seasons or so, we have been pretty consistent and competitive and that will be my aim again to get us there and hopefully go one better.

“It’s a tall order and we understand that.

“But this defeat doesn’t diminish my desire to do well. If anything, it just drives you on that little bit more.

“We need to find that little bit extra from somewhere and hopefully that’s enough to keep you competitive.”

Three members of Brackley’s impressive defensive unit, meanwhile, have been named in the Vanarama National League North Team of the Year.

Captain Gaz Dean made the cut for the sixth year in a row while central defensive partner Louis Lomas and goalkeeper Dan Lewis were also included.

Brackley comfortably had the best defensive record in the league last season, conceding just 23 goals in their 42 matches in the regular campaign and keeping 28 clean sheets in the process.

One player who won’t be with Brackley next season is full-back Connor Franklin who confirmed he is retiring from football after an 18-year career.

Writing on Twitter, Franklin said: “Time to hang the boots up and announce I am retiring.

"I’ve had the pleasure of meeting some fantastic people over my 18 years in the game.

"So, If our paths have crossed over that time I want to say thank you for being a part of it. It’s been a pleasure.”