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Bucks Lose Home Opener to Brackley
In their home league opener, Rob Edwards’s young Bucks side were unable to match a seasoned Brackley Town side. The visitors struck twice within two minutes around the half-hour mark and then extended their lead before withstanding a Bucks rally in the second half.

Edwards made just one change to the side from their win at York City, with Joe Fitzpatrick replacing an injured Jack Rea. The early exchanges in the game were quite cautious, with the Bucks having a golden chance to take the lead on 8 minutes. John Marsden added impetus to an attack and when the resulting cross fell to him amidst a crowd of players at the far post he snatched at the opportunity, falling backwards, and cleared Danny Lewis’s crossbar.

Brackley’s Lee Ndlovu went close from a Glenn Walker cross, the winger an ever-present threat to the Bucks back line. Aaron Simpson was looking to get forward down the right flank, but neither side looked like making a breakthrough until the 31st minute. Ndlovu set up James Armson to shoot from 20 yards but he skewed his shot high into the air. Keeper Jas Singh came out to punch the dropping ball clear but couldn’t get a good contact on it above a crowd of players and his effort fell to former Buck Andy Brown, who volleyed into an unprotected goal from 15 yards through a crowd of players.

Whilst that goal was a setback, what followed little over a minute later probably decided the contest. Glenn Walker again made ground down the left and his low cross into the six-yard box was met by a sliding Jordan Gough. The defender was unable to prevent the ball entering the net to register an own-goal against his former side.

Brackley were now on top and almost finished the game off before the break. The Bucks did respond, Aaron Simpson’s side-footed effort being saved low down by Lewis, but Andy Brown headed narrowly over in the last action of the half to assert the visitors’ dominance.

HALF TIME: AFC Telford United 0 Brackley Town 2

Bucks boss Rob Edwards shuffled his pack at the break, bringing on debutant Jordan Lussey, signed earlier in the day, and Kieran Dunbar, with Will Marsh and Jonathan Royle making way. The substitutions didn’t prevent Brackley snatching a third goal on 48 minutes. Shane Byrne’s left-wing free-kick was headed back across goal by Gareth Dean and Ndlovu rose unmolested at the far post to beat Jas Singh.

It was almost a fourth goal within a minute, as Singh appeared to be wrong-footed by Lewis’s kick downfield, the Bucks keeper keeping the ball out on the line despite it looking to some observers that it had crossed the line.

Edwards made a third change on 55 minutes, with Ross White introduced in favour of Joe Fitzpatrick, and at last the Bucks started to get into the game. Buoyed by a vocal crowd, the home side went looking for a way back and found one on 66 minutes. Aaron Simpson got behind Alex Gudger on Brackley’s left and his searching low cross, looking for Kieran Dunbar, was turned into his own net by Ellis Myles.

Immediately another chance fell the Bucks way, a Marsden effort being deflected over the bar, and the crowd sensed that another goal might be imminent. However, Brackley upped their level, and although the Bucks kept trying to pass their way back into the match the visitors threat on the counter-attack meant the Bucks couldn’t commit fully to their endeavours.

After the opening day win at York, this result will have ensured that supporters feet are grounded in reality. For the Bucks’ team and management, if they weren’t already aware of the standards they need to aspire to compete in the National League North then this game will have served as a reminder of the work that lies ahead.

FULL TIME: AFC Telford United 1 Brackley Town 3

Bucks: Singh, Simpson, Gough, Hayden, Sutton (c), Fitzpatrick (White 55), Marsh (Dunbar 45), Royle (Lussey 45), Marsden, Newby.

Unused subs: Martinez, Strong.

Scorer: Myles (Own Goal 66).

Bookings: None.

Brackley Town: Lewis, Myles, Gudger, Shane Byrne, Graham, Dean, Glenn Walker (Tillney 83), Armson, Ndlovu, Brown (Lowe 86), Adam Walker.

Unused subs: Kaziboni, Jack Byrne, Diggin.

Bookings: None.

Referee: Alex Kirkley

Assistants: Robert Hathaway, Blake Antrobus.

Attendance: 1,225.

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