Uhlsport Hellenic League Division One East side Didcot Town Reserves deservedly advanced into the Bluefin Sports (UHL) Supplementary Challenge Cup Final as they saw off a very tired Bracknell Town side writes Darrell Freeland.
The Robins had been in good form of late whilst ‘Diddy’ had won only once in their last six league matches losing the other five so on paper at least, it looked a tough prospect for the home side.
On the flip side, Bracknell had exerted a mammoth effort to avoid relegation from the Premier Division and the match was their 21st since the start of the year whilst for Didcot it was their fourteenth. Also, it was the visitors eighth match in April compared to five for Reserves.
Bracknell actually started really brightly in the first twelve minutes before Didcot opened the scoring with their first chance. Aaron Gray was picked out by Lewis Noble in the pocket of space between the goalkeeper and his defence and Gray chipped the ball over Garry Aulsberry to score.
Throughout the match, the home side were very physical and extremely hard working as they pressed and hurried as a collective unit and the Robins failed to register a single shot on target until Seb Bowerman’s magic bought about an equaliser ten minutes into the second half. Weaving through the defenders, Bowerman then coolly finished extremely well from an acute angle.
The home side should have had a penalty when Lee Rushe pushed over one of the Didcot strikers but Bracknell were fortunate to not see it awarded.
Joseph Parrish thought he had won in for Reserves in the 89th minute but Aulsberry somehow clawed the ball over the crossbar to keep the sides level. From the resulting corner, the visitors cleared off the line to send the match to extra time.
On 104 minutes, substitute Charlie Noble met Gray’s right sided cross and Noble calmly rounded Aulsberry to slot home.
Tempers became frayed on both sides during the extra periods with lots of pushing and shoving during set pieces and player reacting to each other as the card came out.
Unfortunately Jack Hollister and George Short (main image) continued their battle from earlier which resulted in the Robins man being shown a straight red card as Mark Tallentire’s side never looked like forcing a second equaliser to send the match to penalties.
Didcot Town Reserves can now look forward to a final with Fairford Town on Saturday 30th April at Flackwell Heath.
Bracknell have a few days rest now before travelling to Henley Town this coming Saturday in a Reading Senior Cup Quarter Final.
Main photo credit: George Short by Richard Claypole