Swifts took a depleted and makeshift team to Brackley Athletic, having accepted a last minute friendly. The hosts currently prop up the bottom league at U12 level, so Swifts had the advantage - on paper at least. Swifts had limited options in terms of formation, finally electing to go 2-4-1-1 with Theo Petrosanu between the sticks, Beau Lawrence and Jack Buck in defence, Tom Sayers, Toby Norman, Joe Walsh and Alex Goode across the middle, with Luca Risato and Ben Seward providing the attack.
The first half saw the Swifts control the game in terms of possession and territory, but as yet were unable to find the back of the onion bag. A combination of hurried shots from distance, and some inspired goalkeeping from the Brackley number 1 kept the sides somehow level at the half-time break. Joe Walsh and Alex Goode dragged their efforts wide of the mark, while Toby Norman had his obligatory effort from a free kick tipped onto the bar for the second game running. Luca Risato also had several strikes at goal, but they were rarely troubling the goalie, with Swifts collectively needing to find a little more.
A positive halftime team talk concluded that Swifts had this game in the bag, if they could just relax a little and take their time when shooting, opting to pick their spot rather than look for pace and power. The second half continued the same as the first, with Swifts utterly in control but still somehow unable to find the breakthrough. Joe Walsh put one over the bar, and then one into the keeper’s hands - after a filthy roulette left the Brackley defence on their backsides. Alex Goode and Toby Norman both had further shots from distance saved by the excellent opposite keeper, who was solely to thank for the game being goalless.
The breakthrough finally came ten minutes into the second half - although despite their chances, this one came in rather lucky circumstances - as the referee gave a dropped ball on the edge of the penalty area, but allowed it to be contested (contravening the new law introduced in June at all levels of the game). Luca Risato as a result, stepped forward, and there would only ever be one winner. The ball rolled goal-ward and Ben Seward was onto it like a flash, with his initial shot saved once again by the 'keeper, but netting the rebound to rapturous applause from the crowd, and huge relief to the handsome head coach.
Spurred on, Swifts continued to assault the away goal, and the second came shortly after. Some neat work in defence by Joe Walsh saw him pass the ball to Ben Seward, who had found space just inside the Swifts half. Ben held the ball up momentarily, before spotting Luca Risato with a perfectly timed overlap, and threading a perfectly weighted ball down the right flank. Luca steamed towards goal and seemed to take one touch too many, getting perilously close to the goalie, before slotting the ball home low and left.
Tired or complacent, Swifts began to sit back and attract pressure on themselves. Brackley got back into the game after a run down the right brought a perfect cross where the Chippy defence was left wanting, not helped by a midfield slow in retreating. Theo Petrosanu tried to stop the shot, but it trickled in. At least Theo finally had something to do, shame it was picking the ball out of his net.
Brackley nearly got a last minute equaliser too, but this time Theo was equal to the shot.
As the ref blew for full time, Swifts were happy with the win, but left wondering why it wasn’t a much more convincing scoreline. We will need to be much more clinical next week as we host Grendon in the league.