The additions of Lydney Town, Longlevens and Tuffley Rovers mean Bracknell Town will visit the Hellenic League’s most westerly county – Gloucestershire – four times this season, and it’s not always been a happy hunting ground!
Bracknell have been travelling to Gloucestershire for a good portion of the 21st Century – since 2004 at least – when a non-league pyramid restructure saw them switched from the familiarity of the Ryman (Isthmian) League to Southern League Division 1 West.
During that time, Robins and their supporters have visited Bishops Cleeve, Shortwood, Cinderford, Cirencester and Fairford to name a few – and seen themselves come unstuck on a few occasions. Last seasons two visits West will double for 2015/16 despite the demotion of Cheltenham Saracens.
It’s fair to say Robins record West doesn’t make great reading, and with four trips to the county bordering Wales it is a point we’re sure Keith Penicott-Bowen will be making to his side when planning these visits.
We thought we’d take a look back over the last few years..
2014/15 – Hellenic Premier. A win and a draw on the road
Saracens finished the season bottom of the league, and the signs were there early on as Bracknell won 2-0 in September 2014 thanks to two own goals.
Brimscombe have proved a bogey side for Bracknell, particularly following their Supplementary Cup victory at the end of the previous season and it was business as usual as usual as the home side won 4-2 despite two goals from Shane Cooper-Clark.
Bracknell were hit by a common issue on long away trips, late withdrawals from the squad. Even so, Jake White made his 100th first team appearance while Tom Nugent made the trip from Loughbrough University to boost the squad – it is a problem though that Keith Penicott-Bowen will need to address with four trips west in 2015/16.
League record in Gloucs: Pl 2, W 1, D 0, L 1, GF 4, GA 4, PTS 3.
2013/14 – Hellenic Premier. Same again but cup final heartache
Trips to Brimscombe & Thrupp and Cheltenham Saracens again – and similar results as Brimscombe won 2-1 (Ben Knight) in late August while Cheltenham were beaten 3-1 thanks to goals from Sam Barratt, Lewis Burns and Shane Cooper-Clark.
Brimscombe of course caused heartache for Bracknell at the end of the season in the Supplementary Cup Final winning 4-0 against a quite honestly exhausted Robins.
League record in Gloucs: Pl 2, W 1, D 0, L 1, GF 4, GA 3, PTS 3.
2012/13 – Hellenic Division 1 East. Cup only!
With Steve Nebbett and Danny Oliphant in the hot-seat, Bracknell flew out of the blocks in their first season since relegation to Division 1 East – with just one defeat in their opening seven games and a superb 2-1 win over rivals Binfield in the FA Cup.
There weren’t any league trips West this season, but Bracknell did travel to Southern League Division 1 Bishop’s Cleeve for a 6-0 FA Cup First Qualifying Round defeat while a pulsating tie at Fairford Town in the Floodlit Cup finished 2-2 thanks to goals from Jake White and Scott Williams – Bracknell though lost on penalties.
League record in Gloucs: Pl 0, W 0, D 0, L 0, GF 0, GA 0, PTS 0.
2011/12 – Hellenic Premier. One point from twelve and relegation
A bleak season this with an occasional bright spot – particularly a double over Ascot, but it did include four trips across the country to Shortwood United, Fairford Town, Cheltenham Saracens and Slimbridge.
And what trips they were yielding a solitary point from a possible 12 with 13 goals conceded and only three scored – even my rudimentary maths knows that’s a goal difference of minus 10 from four ties.
Slimbridge and Shortwood both hit five past Robins who did manage a solitary goal in reply at Swans.
The trip to Fairford was a tie both sides needed to win with four games of the season gone, but it was the home side who won 2-1 and set the tone for the rest of the season – both sides were eventually relegated, Fairford finishing a point ahead of Bracknell.
The solitary point? Oh yes, that was a 1-1 draw at promoted Cheltenham – a relative high point after three straight defeats in January.
Oh, there was also the 5-1 League Cup defeat at Lydney, but this is about league games so doesn’t count.
League record in Gloucs: Pl 4, W 0, D 1, L 3, GF 3, GA 13, PTS 1.
2010/11 – Hellenic Premier. Steadying the ship
Bracknell Town’s first season at step five started well in their first game, stuttered a bit through the season and ended with a 16th placed finish and a pat on the back after several years of decline (more on that below..).
The first game of the season against Oxford City Nomads should have been a rout for Bracknell, as it was the new look side settled for a 2-0 win – as good as it got in the opening weeks which yielded home and away defeats to Slimbridge – the away trip was a 2-1 defeat with Bracknell’s goal coming from Sam Whiting during his first spell with the club.
As October came around, Robins managed a rare win at Fairford Town thanks to a solitary Richard Mills goal, but this was followed by a 5-0 gazumping in Shortwood.
League record in Gloucs: Pl 3, W 1, D 0, L 2, GF 2, GA 7, PTS 3.
2009/10 – Southern League. A season best forgotten
Whenever you do these sorts of retrospectives, you always shudder at the memory of the 2009/10 season. A season all Bracknell fans of any standing would – I am sure – like to rip out of the record books.
The year, you will all remember was a wretched one where Bracknell earned just six points (the two suprising wins were admittedly excellent) from 42 games, a full 19 points behind 21st placed AFC Hayes.
We have to look at the season though, as it involved trips to Cinderford Town, Cirencester Town and Bishops Cleeve.
Let’s box this off quickly, we lost 11-1 on the road at Cirencester, 4-1 at Cinderford and ‘only’ 1-0 at Bishops Cleeve.
Right, that’s done. Next..
League record in Gloucs: Pl 3, W 0, D 0, L 3, GF 2, GA 16, PTS 0.
2008/09 – Southern League. That was a close one
Mind you the previous season wasn’t much better, aside from us making a bit of a fist it by picking up 35 points we still finished bottom only to avoid relegation by virtue of the fact Winchester were deducted three points for fielding an ineligible player.
It was again trips to Bishops Cleeve, Ciren and Cinderford but with much better results.
A 2-1 win at a very windy Bishops Cleeve and a 0-0 draw at newly relegated Cirencester was a big improvement – but it was all for nothing when Max Aneke got himself sent-off at Bridgwater Town meaning he missed the final game of the season at Cinderford.
Bracknell needed a win and led through Nathan Jack but were ultimately pegged back and lost the game late on when searching for the win – reserve goalkeeper Perry Howard could do little to keep out the Cinderford winner. It was a tough day, at least until we learned of Winchester’s three point deduction, but as you already know, worse was to come!
League record in Gloucs: Pl 3, W 1, D 1, L 1, GF 4, GA 4, PTS 4.
2005/06 to 2007/08 – Southern League. Nothing to see here
Well this is awkward isn’t it – two whole seasons with nothing. There weren’t any league trips to Gloucestershire during this period in the league.
Though trips to Northamptonshire, Somerset and the West Midlands were plentiful.
2005/06 – Southern League. Cinders again
Bracknell’s second season in the Southern League saw them finish a place higher, but that annual trip to Cinderford this time ended in a 2-0 defeat at the end of March.
League record in Gloucs: Pl 1, W 0, D 0, L 1, GF 0, GA 2, PTS 0.
2004/05 – Southern League. Only one Cinders
One of our earliest trips to Gloucestershire in the 21st century was actually a positive one. A 2-2 draw at Cinderford Town was a big point for Bracknell who narrowly avoided the drop at the end of the season finishing above Oxford City (look at them now!) and Egham Town.
League record in Gloucs: Pl 1, W 0, D 1, L 0, GF 2, GA 2, PTS 2.