In sport circles, the south Northamptonshire town of Brackley is better known for Formula 1 than football. This is due in part to the nearby Siverstone racing circuit and for the fact that German F1 team Mercedes AMG Petronas are based there.
But Brackley Town will be hoping to ‘race’ into the 4th Qualifying round by beating our team Rugby Town in Saturday’s 3rd Qualifying tie.
The Saints, who ply their trade in the Conference North, do have recent pedigree in the FA Cup. Their finest moment came in the 2013-14 season when they beat then League One side Gillingham 1-0 in a First Round replay following a 1-1 draw.
They’ll be favourites in Saturday’s match, being two steps further up the pyramid from Rugby. But form and stature goes out of the window in the Cup, and Rugby will be making the relatively short journey full of confidence having dispatched Lincoln United in the last round. That 3-2 win was followed by a 3-1 league win over fellow strugglers Carlton Town, a result which lifted them above their opponents but sees them remain in the bottom three in the early league table. They then suffered defeat in the FA Trophy Preliminary round, when St Ives Town beat them 4-2 away.
Brackley too are struggling for league form, and haven’t won in their last 5 league games, losing four. So Rugby will at least have hope. And the two clubs do have previous, having met in the old Southern League.
It’s worth noting that Brackley do have a couple of famous faces in their squad. Former Premier League defender and Jamaican international Frank Sinclair is the club’s player-caretaker manager. His career saw him turn out for Chelsea and Leicester City in the Premier League. And do you remember Pablo Mills? My Derby County-supporting companion will. Mills started a very promising career at Pride Park back in 2002. The defender/midfielder made 57 appearances for The Rams before loan spells at MK Dons and Walsall. He then made 138 appearances for Rotherham between 2006 and 2010, but was released after they suffered League Two Play Off Final defeat at Wembley in May 2010. His record for Brackley reads played 2, scored 1.
So which club will have the right formula and race into the next round? And can my awful puns get any worse?