Brackley Town heading to Wembley after beating Wealdstone in FA Trophy semi-final
Brackley Town are going to Wembley for the first time in the club's history.
Second-half goals from Shane Byrne and top scorer Aaron Williams, with his 32nd of the campaign, saw Saints complete the job in Saturday’s Buildbase FA Trophy semi-final second-leg.
Saints beat Wealdstone 2-0 to go through 3-0 on aggregate and it was as comfortable as the final scoreline suggests for Kevin Wilkin’s side.
Wealdstone rarely threatened to overturn Saints’ slim first-leg advantage despite the backing of a vociferous home crowd. Kick-off was delayed to allow all the fans to cram into Grosvenor Vale, where the Stones pinned their hopes on making home advantage count.
But they faced a Saints outfit determined to protect their lead.
A lively opening saw Lee Ndlovu thwarted by a timely challenge from skipper Jerome Okimo with Gareth Dean heading over from Glenn Walker’s ensuing corner.
In between, Stones forced a couple of corners with Bradley Bubb’s goalbound header being cleared by Alex Gudger.
Saints began to get on top as the half progressed and the Stones had to defend in depth while being unable to threaten at the other end.
Saints turned the screw towards the latter stages of the first half and went close when Byrne fired wide from 25 yards through a crowded box and Williams headed wide from another Walker corner.
But for all their dominance, Saints could not find a way through, partly due to an impressive performance from Okimo, who led by example.
Stones were glad to hear the half-time whistle but it was they who needed the goal.
Kicking towards their fans in the second half, Saints might have expected to be put under pressure, but it was the visitors who struck first.
Byrne’s 55th-minute free-kick from just outside the angle of the area evaded everyone in the box, including keeper Jonathan North, and nestled in the far corner of the net.
Last week’s hero, Gudger, went close to doubling his side’s advantage moments later but North saved his close range effort after Stones failed to deal with another deep Byrne free-kick.
Seeing the tie slip away from Stones, manager Bobby Wilkinson made a triple substitution just before the hour mark and Wellard saw his deflected 20-yard drive superbly tipped around the post by Danny Lewis.
That signalled a brief period of pressure by the Stones but not enough to break Saints’ rearguard, although Jake Sheppard’s corner was volleyed over by the otherwise excellent Okimo and Sheppard blazed wide from a tight angle.
Saints always looked dangerous on the break and Armson sent Adam Walker clear in the box, but North was quickly out to avert the danger.
But Saints were not to be denied and they doubled their advantage in the 86th minute.
Another quick break saw Armson feed Ellis Myles who turned inside and played the perfect pass to Williams, who cut inside Sheppard and curled the ball around North and into the far corner of the net from just inside the angle of the area.
Game over - and the Stones had been well and truly rolled over.
Four minutes of stoppage-time were up and Saints fans celebrated as the players took the well deserved praise.