Brackley Too Good for K’s in Emirates FA Cup
The draw for this year’s FA Cup second qualifying round was crueller than most. Upon hearing the words “Brackley Town”, I immediately and ignorantly thought: “midlands (maybe)”, “Oxfordshire-ish”, “Evostick”, “tinpot”, “pub team”, “fun away trip after a replay”, “callow keeper”, “easy win”, “jokers”, “this is our year”.
Then I googled Brackley Town and saw some other words: “Vanarama North”, “money-bags”, “5 goals conceded in 12 league matches”, “third in the league”, “reached 2nd round proper of FA Cup in both 2015 and 2016”.
Then I thought “at least they’ll bring a few”. And then I saw their average attendance hovering around 500.
And then I thought “but we’re good now because we have Tom Collins upfront”. But then I saw that Tom Collins was cup-tied (the worst rule in Football) because of a 13-minute cameo for Staines in the previous round.
And so, without much expectation of a win (or a goal), Saturday’s match began. Ricky Sappleton started. Adam Thompson played central midfield in the absence of Lewis Taylor. Tom Derry, looking slightly bereft, occupied a curious inside-left scurrying role, while Jerome Federico contemplated the seemingly impossible task of running around Brackley’s superb wing-back Glenn Walker.
While the statistics may show K’s failed to have a shot on target, there was nonetheless something indefinably encouraging about the display against an obviously superior team, particularly in the opening 20 minutes when there were flashes of passing and pattern, Manu Gogonas as usual providing the drive while Sapps threatened to translate thoughts into action.
Though Wingate famously have more flags than fans, Brackley are perhaps their rivals for the accolade. The sound when their goals went in resembled two drunk men celebrating a fruit machine payout. The crowd of 289, given the circumstances, was vaguely encouraging.
The goals, it must be said, were poor. Lee Ndlovu headed in the first after 23 minutes rising unmarked to meet Walker’s corner. Andy Brown scored the second immediately after half-time, set up by Jack Byrne. Matt Lowe then fired the third goal from distance, impudently finding the gap between Rob Tolfrey and his near post.
In between, other things occurred: Brackley’s keeper joylessly refused to nibble on some half-hearted abuse. The sun came out. A horse neighed. Craig Edwards shouted “do your job!” Evan Green liked a tweet. I purchased a Kingstonian pencil case from Alison's table in the bar.
But the FA Cup is over. Long live the Trophy.
Match report by Taimour Lay.