Hritika Sharma is a member of the FA’s Young Reporters’ Club and currently studies Football Journalism at the University of Derby.
As the temperature dropped and skies clouded in ‘Sunny Nunny’, Liberty Way gradually got busier as the Saturday afternoon kick-off approached.
Nuneaton Borough were taking on Brackley Town in the Emirates FA Cup second round qualifying, a rematch of their National League North fixture here three weeks ago.
- The Emirates FA Cup
- Second Round Qualifying
- Saturday 22 September
- Liberty Way, Nuneaton
- Winners receive £9000 from prize fund
Brackley arguably had the better start to the game, with Lee Ndlovu drawing a save from Cam Belford after just two minutes played.
Nuneaton had several attacking spells, propelled forward by Carl Baker, Devon Kelly-Evans and Adam McGurk; however, it was the visitors who struck first. After a scramble in the box following Shane Byrne’s corner at the other end, Ndlovu scored to put Brackley in front.
Minutes later, the away side threatened again, though Connor Hall’s header was kept out by a fine save from Belford to keep Nuneaton in the game.
The second half was a more evenly-matched contest, and Nicky Eaden’s side found an equaliser just ten minutes after the restart. Against a backdrop of drizzling rain and vocal support from the Boro faithful, Kairo Mitchell poked in the rebound after Danny Lewis’ initial save to bring the home team level.
Spurred on by the goal, Nuneaton grew in confidence and looked more threatening as Brackley’s early composure diminished but, ultimately, neither side could find a winner. Nuneaton finished the match with ten men after the late dismissal of captain Miles Addison for a foul on Matt Lowe.
Brackley only had themselves to blame for going into the break with a solitary goal, and manager Kevin Wilkin said as much after the game.
“If we would have taken our chances as they came along, we would have been in the next round, but now we’re going for a replay,” he said.
“To have so many good moments in the game and to come away with only one goal is somewhat disappointing. You always need a second [goal], as we’ve come to recognise through this part of the season. In the second half, I do think we should have had a penalty; that could have been the difference.”
Wilkin was optimistic about his side’s chances in the upcoming replay on Tuesday 25 September and joked that Brackley are “used to replays.”
He added: “I think we will give a more rounded account of ourselves [on Tuesday]. When you look at it at the end of the day, I think a draw is probably a fair result.”
Having previously played for and managed Nuneaton, Wilkin had warm words for his former team.
“It’s always interesting coming back,” he said.
“It’s a side that’s close to my heart; I’ve got a lot of good friends here and I would like to see them do well. But, I still want to beat them when I oppose them! I have some fantastic memories from my time here and it’s a fun place to revisit.”
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