Bracknell Town’s 6-0 win at Highmoor-IBIS on New Year’s Eve sent them to the top of the Uhlsport Hellenic Premier League, and I see no reason why the Robins can’t stay there until May.
Mark Tallentire seems to have gotten his squad size just about right at Larges Lane this season.
He clearly has a first choice matchday squad but has been able to call on players when needed to cover when required.
Damien Smith has been a prime example of an experienced campaigner who’s been in and around the club all season, and come into the side when needed – he was excellent at full-back against Burnham earlier in the season and has made seven league appearances this season.
Against Highmoor, Smith slotted in at centre-back while new signing Gavin Smith deputised for Adam Cornell up front – Bracknell won the game relatively easily (6-0).
Involvement in cup competitions
This goes against conventional wisdom – Chelsea and Liverpool doing well in the Premier League because they don’t have European cup competitions to worry about.
BUT for Bracknell, to my mind – it’s the opposite. Tallentire has given time to players that haven’t had much Hellenic Premier League football, and since the Robins are still in the majority of competitions (obviously bar the FA Cup and Vase) it looks like this will continue and he’ll be able to keep his players fresh and content, ready for their chance.
The versatility of the players
Let’s be honest, having an outfield player who can easily stick on the gloves and cover for you is pretty handy.
And in Callum Whitty the Robins have a player comfortable in any number of positions – having deputised at least twice for Chris Grace this season.
Whitty has regularly played in central defence this season, but against Highmoor-IBIS the Bracknell News’s Dave Wright described him as a ‘midfield dynamo’ – and he got on the score sheet.
Callum Whitty ( midfield dynamo today ) makes it @bracknelltownfc 5. @'highmooribis 0 after 85 mins
— Dave Wright (@DWrightSport) December 31, 2016
Further forward you’ve got the likes Joe Grant and Kenlsey Maloney who’ve all had turns up front while captain and centre-back Carl Davies has been a centre-forward for much of his career.
Sheer bloody-mindedness and discipline
In two of the biggest games this season, the home double header against Thame United and Thatcham Town, Bracknell did not buckle, give up or lose their belief.
The 2-0 win against previously unbeaten Thame was one of real character and saw the visitors forced to resort to an ever more physical game as the match and scoreline drifted away from them.
Against Thatcham, a disastrous start – 2-0 down inside the opening 10 minutes – saw a resounding and possibly season defining second half with five Bracknell goals and two completely avoidable but utterly deserved red cards for the Kingfishers.
Penalities, goals and the golden boot
Duds has highlighted the big chance of a Hellenic Premier League golden boot coming to Berkshire with TJ Bohane and Adam Cornell both in the mix.
Bracknell are scoring goals for fun and have scored the joint most in the league (80, shared with Thame) and have the best defensive record conceding only 24.
Add to that young winger Seb Bowerman is on fire from the penalty spot and Joe Grant has 11 league strikes to his name.
And the momentum is with them..
The title race is effectively a three horse one with Bracknell currently top of the pile a point ahead of Thame and two ahead of Flackwell Heath.
However, Bracknell have come through some tough fixtures in November and won all seven games in December including a late late winner at home to Binfield on the night Larges Lane reopened.
Tallentire’s side now have nine more days until their next league fixture at home to Tuffley Rovers with a diverting County Cup semi-final at Flackwell Heath on Saturday.
Do you agree that Bracknell will win the league? Do you think they have what it takes? Let us know in the comments below.