I tried without success to find something or someone of interest from Brackley and failed on both counts. It was something of a black night travelling on the coach with its tinted windows which gave the impression of passing through a very long tunnel, meaning it became something of a mystery tour, though not of the “magical” kind. We arrived with time enough to go ‘round again. Not knowing what to expect inside the portals of the ground (which as it happened was excellent) a straggle of us headed towards the promised lair of a decent pub. Through hammering rain we trudged. At one stage I thought it might be prudent to be roped together. We did eventually arrive at what can only be described as a proper local glorifying in the name of “Loco”, more to do with ‘motion than state of mind. To say it was snug was to put it mildly, as you had to go outside to turn around. The ground floodlights acting as a beacon guided us back through the ever-pouring rain. As some of the dwellings suggested, Brackley has now become something of a dormitory town which I’d surmised during a brief yomp into its centre.
As far as the ground, fans ,stewards and catering were concerned, it couldn’t be faulted, with a ready smile on faces especially at the final whistle. One thing we couldn’t blame was the immaculate playing surface ideally suited to our style of play. Pre-match I spotted the ever-cheerful Steve Burr, attracted perhaps by the Stalybridge-style deluge. I wasn’t best pleased to see Austin not included in the starting line-up plus Truslove, who has a real nuisance value, playing as if he has a chip on his shoulder which doesn’t appear to affect his balance. Also I’d have liked to have seen Hornby back in harness. For me it was something of a negative selection at the outset.
Still warmed by the knowledge of our recent win (and a hot pie) and in spite of Eustace’s dire warning as to how good Brackley could be, the opening minutes soon waylaid those fears. Although that invisible force field appeared about the 18-yard line of the opposition, preventing any strike from a distance. we still created at least three take-able chances to score. In fact, we made Brackley look like a side very ordinaire.
With slightly dampened spirits at the turnaround with Brown struggling and Waite, for all his physicality, not causing too much concern, that should have been the cue for a positive reaction via attacking subs. Not so. In fact it was the Brackley part-timers that clicked into attacking mode. We gifted them their first after we lost possession under no pressure, the second by collectively-dropped heads throwing away precious points. You couldn’t fault the players for effort, or the travelling faithful, but it was such a soul-destroying defeat. Again a switch of tactics changed their whole demeanour and we just stubbornly stuck to ours, which were patently in need of revision. For a brief moment I thought about cancelling my ticket for the United game which is quite unlike me, but events happened that we’ve witnessed far too often. One slightly perverse crumb of comfort earlier in the evening: I lamented the possibility that I wouldn’t get the chance to visit this ground again, hopefully in the daylight. At present it looks odds on that I will.