Shoot-out heartbreak again as Brackley's hopes are ended

Kevin Wilkin's Saints were beaten on penalties in the National League North play-off eliminator
Action from Brackley Town's play-off clash with Gateshead. Picture by Kirsty EdmondsAction from Brackley Town's play-off clash with Gateshead. Picture by Kirsty Edmonds
Action from Brackley Town's play-off clash with Gateshead. Picture by Kirsty Edmonds

Brackley Town suffered penalty shoot-out heartbreak in the National League North play-offs for the second year in a row as their hopes were ended by Gateshead behind closed doors at St James Park.

Things were all-square at 1-1 after 90 minutes, during which Shane Byrne scored one of the best goals you will ever see, but the Saints were left ruing spot-kicks once again at the end of the day.

The game burst into life towards the end of the first half when Gateshead were awarded a penalty after Carl Baker was adjudged to have fouled Alex Nicholson in the area.

However, Danny Lewis was equal to Jordan Preston’s spot-kick although that did spark a good spell for the visitors who took the lead deep into stoppage-time.

A free-kick was whipped in from the left, it was flicked on and Jake Cooper was left unmarked to nod home at the far post.

But no-one could have seen what would happen next.

Lee Ndolvu rolled the ball back to Byrne from the kick-off and the Irish midfielder uncorked a sensational strike from more than 50 yards, which sailed over Bradley James’ head and into the top corner.

The second half was fairly low-key with chances few and far between as the heat began to take its toll.

Gateshead went closed when Lewis saved well from Elliot Forbes while JJ O’Donnell saw an effort drift agonisingly wide.

But neither side could find a winner, which meant it was straight to spot-kicks.

And it proved to be a marathon effort that went to sudden death with Lewis and James both making saves but the key moment arrived when Elliot Forbes scored to put Gateshead 6-5 up and Ellis Myles then saw his effort saved by James to spark wild celebrations from the visitors.

Brackley: Lewis; Myles, Dean, Walker, Franklin (sub Daire, 88 mins); Byrne, Murombedzi (sub Maye, 90 mins); Lowe, Armson, Baker (sub Fairlamb, 75 mins); Ndlovu (sub Smith, 90 mins). Subs not used: Langmead, Worby.

Gateshead: James; Nicholson, Forbes, Williamson, Cooper, O’Donnell; Olley, Agnew (sub Pattison, 89 mins), Deverdics, Preston; Keatting (sub Blackett, 72 mins). Subs not used: Greenfield, Guthrie, Hunter.

Goals: Cooper (45 mins, 0-1), Byrne (45 mins, 1-1).

Bookings: Baker (dissent), Deverdics (foul).