As manager Nikos Patsalides sunned himself in foreign climes, it was up to Brian Judge to lead the troops against another unbeaten side, Bracknell Celtic. Manics made a couple of changes from the team taken to pieces in last weeks Berks & Bucks cup match, bringing back Spencer Blay and Stuart Clapson into the side. From the start though, it didn’t look like Manics needed old heads, but young legs, to combat Celtics average age of about 19.
The game began with end to end action, but neither keeper tested. Everything was going to cataplana for the Manics culminating in the moment when they made Celtic Pepe (pay) for defending too high at a free kick swung in by Simon Blay that was met with usual power by Kirk Morton to make it 1-0. This goal was followed by great pressure by the young Celtic side who won about 6 consecutive corners. Eventually it was a long throw that caught out Robinson as the rebound was smashed home. A couple of saves off the line meant Manics went in 1-1.
Any Porto in a storm? No, a Judgey Porto! Calm heads were needed and they gave the Manics belief for the second half. Jamie Gaff, who had been full of terrific running throughout the first half, was creating more havoc. His third goal of the season was something that Eusebio would’ve been proud of. Latching onto a throw from Chris Mitchell, Jamie completed a spectacular, self-created overhead kick that completely caught the keeper by surprise gave Manics a slender 2-1 lead. Whilst the midfield battle was 50/50, Celtic were finding it impossible to get past the Manics Morton, who was the true Man of War, eating every header up like they were Cozido.
So it was fitting that it was another Blay Snr-Morton combo that put the game out of reach. Beautiful, swinging free kick met sweetly with the head for 3-1. Again, the subs were fantastic. Baker partying down the wing like Luis Figo in 99, Steve Hedges chasing all the balls down like Helder Postiga and Dan moving like a tattoo free Raul Meireles. Judge bought himself on to shore up the back line to make matters safe. A sporting game, deservedly won by BMFC. Not a piece of Madeira cake, but straightforward enough.
Manics Starting XI: Robinson, Blay Snr, Morton, Mitchell, Gibson, Evans, Blay Jnr, Davies, Blackman, Clapson, Gaff.
Bench: Hedges, Baker, Soady, Judge
Subs not used: NA
Refs MoM: Morton