MATCH REPORT: Athletico Bramley 3:2 Republica
Republica narrowly missed out on a point in Sunday's away match against early-season pace setters Athletico Bramley. A wonder goal from Oliver Lines and a close-range finish from Conor Walsh weren't enough as the hosts extended their 100% record.
After last week's impressive second half, the Reds once again lined up in a 4-1-3-2 formation with Jordan Thomas in goal; a back four of Nathan Crawley, Jack Smith, Dave Hansen and Peter Lines; Walsh in defensive midfield behind Seamus Lundy, Matty Booth, and Abdelwahab Osama; and Mohammed Hamaway and Oliver Lines starting together up front.
It was a slow start from Republica and Bramley enjoyed the better of the opening 20 minutes although they were certainly helped by the slope at Bramley Fall Park. Smith made several good tackles on the cover as the home side pressed and his fellow defenders were forced to scramble the ball clear more than once. It was against the run of play when Republica took the lead on 23' but there was no arguing with the quality of the goal. Oliver Lines picked up the ball in midfield and exchanged passes with Booth before unleashing a fierce shot over the keeper from outside the box. Unfortunately, the lead only lasted around ten minutes despite a marked improvement from the visitors. The Reds were left cursing their luck as a corner was whipped across and curled straight in at the back post without a touch from either side. Just a few minutes later, Republica were behind as Thomas' clearance was punted straight back by a Bramley midfielder and evaded the keeper, dropping down the slope into the goal. The referee's whistle marked the end of the first half with Republica 2-1 down.
One substitution at half-time saw Osama replaced by Mahmoud Khdeir and after kick off Republica immediately seized the initiative and spent a prolonged period camped inside the Bramley half. The second period was slow to get going, however, as Hamaway threw himself at a free kick and stayed down for a couple of minutes having taken a hefty blow from the opposition goalkeeper. Once play resumed, the Reds had a succession of free kicks and corners but couldn't take advantage. Marvin Boakye, on his competitive debut, came on for Hamaway around the hour mark and offered a focal point up front, winning his share in the air and driving forward with the ball at his feet. The final substitution saw Josh Booth replace Peter Lines at full back and the two second-half subs combined to set up Walsh's equaliser. Booth hurled a long throw towards Boakye who got to the ball ahead of the defence and flicked it towards goal. The keeper saved but in the ensuing melee it fell kindly for Walsh who rifled in his second Republica goal with 20 minutes remaining. At this point, it looked as though the Reds had done enough for a point but they were undone by a set piece on 84' when a free kick from deep was nodded down and an attacker latched onto the loose ball to send a winner past Thomas.
Bramley's home advantage clearly showed as they managed the game well in the last few minutes, in particular coping well with the slope. A final scoreline of 3-2 seemed harsh on Republica as they gave as good as they got in the second half and can reflect on a performance that was full of effort and endeavour. Conor Walsh was awarded the man of the match thanks to an energetic midfield display capped off with a good goal.