Bracknell Town did things the hard way twice coming from behind as they defeated Thatcham Town 3-2 in the Emirates FA Cup in an all Uhlsport Hellenic League Premier Division affair.
The visitors had a couple of early chances with neither clear cut but they should have opened the scoring in the fourteenth minute. Khalid Senussi’s perfectly weighted ball reached Adam Cornell who fired beyond goalkeeper Curtis Meare but player-manager Gareth Thomas cleared off the line.
Ten minutes later and it was Thatcham’s turn to almost find the breakthrough as Josh Baines cross was met by former Robins star Shane Cooper-Clark but he couldn’t beat Chris Grace who made a fantastic save.
On 29 minutes the home side opened the scoring and Grace could do little about it. The Robins defence failed to clear their lines and right back Jordan Seward gratefully finished from a few yards out at the far post.
It nearly got worse for Bracknell when Cooper-Clark robbed Lee Rushe and raced towards goal but Grace denied him before Ashleigh James struck the crossbar from distance.
Half Time: Thatcham Town 1 – 0 Bracknell Town – here’s who Bracknell Town will face in the Preliminary Round
The visiting side started the second period brightly and Meare did very well to claw a header over from Callum Whitty’s cross.
A lovely move bought the sides level in the 56th minute. Downes’ forward pass found Cornell who unselfishly squared for Senussi who coolly finished from ten yards out.
Nine minutes later and Thatcham took the lead for a second time as Cooper-Clark smashed home a penalty into the left corner after Whitty had fouled Callum Willmoth.
Manager Mark Tallentire introduced Kennie Chamberlain, Ian Davies and Dan Roberts to freshen the attack and it almost paid immediate dividends as Roberts hit the left post although Meare appeared to have it covered.
On 81 minutes, Chamberlain danced through to make it 2-2. Davies and Roberts combined but dwelled and the chance appeared lost but Chamberlain had other ideas. With his back to goal he twisted and turned to beat three defenders before he rounded another and lifted the ball over Meare and into the far right corner for a truly wonderful goal.
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It looked as though a Tuesday night replay beckoned before Cornell won the tie with four minutes remaining. He showed great tenacity and a refusal to give up as he chased what looked a lost ball and beat Thomas to it way out on the left side. His quick shot caught Meare out of position and he couldn’t prevent it from crossing the line – albeit very slowly – to the delight of the away fans and to ensure the Robins progress to the next round.
Bracknell’s reward is a trip to Evo-Stik Southern League Central side Egham Town in a fortnight’s time with the sides meeting for the first time since the Robins exited the Southern League.
Full Time: Thatcham Town 2 – 3 Bracknell Town
Thatcham Town: Meare, Seward (Lewis 89), Jacobs, A James, Thomas, Rodrigues, Willmoth, Melledew, Cooper-Clark, Baines (Bennett 83), Helmore (Tennant 61). Subs not used: Browne, Scholes, M James, Deller.
Bracknell Town: Grace, Hancock, Gray, Withers, Whitty, Rushe, Grant (Chamberlain 68), McClurg, Cornell, Downes (Davies 69), Senussi (Roberts 76). Subs not used: Suarez, Lock, Money, Steinborn-Busse.
All images by Mark Pugh.