Thrilling Vase encounter for Leighton forces replay

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Leighton Town forced a replay after a 3-3 thriller with Brackley Town Saints in the FA Vase First Qualifying Round.

Still seeking their first win in the league, Town raced into a two goal lead, but were pegged back by the home side, forcing extra time.

And after 30 minutes and a goal apiece, the tie was sent to a replay that will be played tonight (Tuesday) at Bell Close.

Town went into the game having lost to neighbours Tring 1-0 in the week, as their search for a win in Spartan South Midlands Premier League continues.

But Leighton have a habit of taking leads only to lose them, and it was the case again on Saturday as they took a 2-0 lead against Brackley, only to let it slip and letting their chances of victory go with it.

Leighton took a long time to get going, but they were eventually awarded by Matthew Bateman’s opener.

Having already forced a good save from the Brackley keeper, Bateman was played in after great work from Ben Gallant and Mark Smith, poking the ball home and Leighton into the lead.

Gallant almost doubled the lead straight away as he tried to lob the keeper, forcing a good stop. But he wasn’t to be denied for long as he was gifted another chance by some poor defending from the home side let Gallant double the lead.

In the stroke of half-time Hewitt could have put the game to bed when he went very close to adding a third, but Town were very much the better side going in at the break.

But given a rocket at half time, Brackley came out for the second period more determined to get back into the game, and it’s exactly what they did, pulling one back within minutes of the restart.

Leighton defended well and had a couple of efforts when Alex Condon headed over from a free kick and Craig Maisiri forced the keeper into a good save at the post .

Gallant should have put the game out of reach but saw his chip go wide of the goal.

Leighton were punished for their missed chances as Brackley got back on level terms with a scrappy goal after a goal-mouth scramble the visitors simply couldn’t clear.

Although Brackley had a lot of late possession, the Leighton defence held firm and they should have won the game in the last seconds when Marcus Campbell was clear through and with only the keeper to beat he shot wide as the game headed to extra time.

The hosts took the lead with a fabulous strike and looked set to book their spot in the next round, but Leighton got back into it with an equaliser of their own five minutes from time as a corner found Smith to force the replay, played at Bell Close tonight (7.45pm kick off).