The season’s curtain raiser proved a disappointing opening encounter for Kevin Wilkin’s Brackley Town side as they lost to the game’s solitary goal from Ben McKenna’s well struck free-kick on the stroke of half-time.
“The first 45 minutes were disappointing then the second half was all us and we had the best chances of the match,” Wilkin said.
“But you have to be finishing off chances like that to make the difference and we didn’t.”
Bradford took charge of the first half as Saints lacked cohesion. Danny Lewis was tested by Nicky Wroe’s fierce early effort and tipped a shot from Chris Dawson over the cross-bar before full-back Danny Lowe rifled in a shot that was just wide. Right on half-time new signing from Salford City, Jake Beesley, was adjudged to be fouled by Luke Graham. The free-kick was central and just a few yards outside the penalty area. Three players lined up to take it but it was McKenna who fired into the top corner leaving Lewis no chance.
The second half was a different story with Saints on top, altogether more composed and around the penalty area much sharper, with the home side relying on a break-away for a second goal. Gregg Smith headed wide at the far post from Glenn Walker’s fine cross and Lee Ndlovu’s header was off target after good work by Matt Lowe but it was not until late on that pressure built on Steven Drench’s goal and possession created chances.
Substitute Daniel Nti’s 86th minute shot was blocked before Ndlovu shot over when well placed. In added time a further opportunity went begging as another header was wide before Drench saved well at close range blocking Connor Franklin’s effort from a corner.
“After the game I’ve gone in and said my piece to the players and that’s gone now. We focus on Tuesday’s match against Alfreton,” Wilkin said. “Alfreton will be a tough game. They’ve brought a lot of good players into the side. But if we play like we did second half here, which is a hard place to come, when we gave a much better account of ourselves, there is reason to believe. We need to respond on Tuesday.”
Brackley Town: Lewis, Lowe, Franklin, Byrne, Graham (Fairlamb 63), Dean, G.Walker, Armson, Smith (Nti 66), Ndlovu, Murombedzi (Myles 77). Subs unused: A.Walker, Hall.
Bradford (Park Avenue): Drench, Toulson, Lowe, Wroe (Boshell 90), Killock, Havern, McKenna, Branson, Beesley, Dawson (Spencer 50), Clee (Johnson 73). Subs unused: Ross, Nowakowski.
Referee: Adam Williamson