Brackley Town 1–0 Chorley

The intensity of the Vanarama National League North playoffs came to Northamptonshire’s St James’ Park

Patrick Hollis
3 min readApr 29, 2024
Brackley edged past Chorley in the NLN play-offs

Play-off season is well and truly upon the English football season, and throughout the pyramid, teams are going through the rollercoaster of emotions that come with it. Not one to want to miss out on the excitement, I took up an offer from a friend to catch Brackley Town’s home semi-final against Chorley.

Brackley is a quaint town, around a 25-minute drive from Northampton and not too far from Oxfordshire. The football club reflects a town with pride in itself, with a still new-looking clubhouse and bar area and a capacity of around 3,500. Over 1800 fans were packed in, with 300 making the journey down from Lancashire.

The ground was bouncing as the teams kicked off, with the Chorley fans in good voice opposite the home end which was keeping a good rhythm thanks to a drum and some hardy voices. The match progressed in a fashion you might expect, the tension of the situation was in the air.

Chances were at a premium in the first half, and a fairly uneventful 45 ticked to a close. Conference playoffs have this season tended to go the length, and the opening half of this one looked a good bet to continue. The break did the world of good for the home side.

Attacking the full home end, which is a terraced end that is partially covered, Brackley moved up the gears. Moving the ball forward at more speed, the hosts started to play down the channels more, Riccardo Calder, in particular, was getting a lot more joy down the left-hand side. His crosses into the box caused some issues for Chorley.

Brackley ramped up the pressure in the second half

The big bearded Brackley number nine Danny Newton almost broke the deadlock when he latched onto a through ball. However, he took too many touches and tried to take the ball around the keeper only to run it out of play.

On the hour mark Newton came close again, this time his effort was stopped at point-blank range by Chorley keeper Matt Urwin. Urwin then thwarted Morgan Roberts when he broke through, and the Brackley faithful could sense a breakthrough was coming- their support would be rewarded before the day was out.

With around 15 minutes left on the clock, the all-important winning goal arrived. Urwin blocked the initial shot toward his goal, but Calder was on hand to head home and nudge his side in front. Cue wild celebrations behind the goal, with 1500 Saints fans knowing a spot in the playoff final was almost theirs.

Chorley huffed and puffed but didn’t do enough to test Brackley keeper Danny Lewis. He was alert to get gloves on some tame efforts during the final minutes. Five minutes of added time came and went without too much incident, and the full-time confirmed it was job done for Brackley. The match was slightly overshadowed by an altercation involving several players on both sides in the aftermath, but the good vibes in the stands wouldn’t let this get in the way of the celebrations.

Brackley deserved the win and set up a home playoff final against Boston United next weekend. A side that has never been in the fifth tier of English football and who won the FA Trophy just a few years ago, Brackley certainly have the facilities and ambition to become a Conference side- they are now just 90 minutes away from getting the job done and in the process, get ready to welcome the likes of Hartlepool United and York City to St James’ Park.



Patrick Hollis

I am a journalist with an honours degree from Coventry University. I’m a published author and journalist with several years experience in the industry