Bracknell Town met Thatcham Town for the third time this campaign and like the previous two matches, it was the Robins who emerged victorious to advance into the quarter-finals of the Berks & Bucks FA County Senior Trophy.
Mark Tallentire’s side were in scintillating form in the first period as they led by two goals at the interval but the visitors responded very well after the break and would have forced extra time had they not seen Mark Hughes’ penalty saved by Chris Grace.
An early chance for the hosts saw Joe Grant shoot at goalkeeper Chris Rackley and the first eighteen minutes were played out very evenly with little action at either end.
On nineteen minutes however the game burst into life as Seb Bowerman put the Robins ahead. Adam Cornell released Grant on the right and his pinpoint cross picked out Bowerman at the far post who fired home.
Thatcham only created two chances in the first half with their best opening seeing Jemel Johnson’s flick lashed at Grace by Melledew from 22 yards.
Just shy of the half hour mark and Cornell doubled the advantage. A superb threaded pass from Kensley Maloney found Cornell out on the right and he slotted home from an acute angle despite protestations from the Kingfishers of offside. It looked ridiculously tight from our angle and benefit was given to Cornell.
It could have been three as Cornell and Grant combined for the latter who had two shots saved by Rackley with Lewis Leonetti clearing Maloney’s follow up effort off the line.
The visitors were incensed on 41 minutes when Lee Rushe steamed into a challenge, got nowhere near the ball and took out Kylen Lewis but was only cautioned for the offence.
Half Time: Bracknell Town 2 – 0 Thatcham Town
Thatcham needed a response having been outplayed for the first half and that is exactly what they got two minutes after the restart when Khalid Senussi was adjudged to have fouled Johnson inside the area.
Hughes stepped up but his penalty was too central and a nice height for Grace who pushed the ball away.
The game became a bit congested and dis-jointed with the managers making five substitutes between them in an eighteen minute spell but it was one of the Kingfishers subs who reduced arrears on 77 minutes as James Tennant set up Josh Helmore to fire in and give his side hope of forcing extra time.
Maloney looked set to extend the lead but was flagged offside before he just missed to the right from 22 yards.
With three minutes left, Helmore shot from outside the box but Grace saved and less than a minute later Helmore’s ball in caused a scramble with Grace claiming the ball on his line to send his side through.
It was a great victory for Tallentire’s side who had captain Carl Davies, Alex Rodrigues, Dave Hancock and TJ Bohane missing from the starting line-up.
Thatcham themselves were missing Shane Cooper-Clark already with fifteen goals this season and regular penalty taker along with Mark James and Josh Baines but it was a great spectacle despite the absentees.
The Kingfishers have only lost six games in all competitions thus far but three of those losses have been against the Robins who clearly have their number currently.
Holmer Green will visit in the quarter-finals with Bracknell looking for revenge following their 4-0 exit in the same cup away at Green last year.
Full Time: Bracknell Town 2 – 1 Thatcham Town
Bracknell Town: Grace, Senussi, Gray, Short (Withers 75), Rushe, Whitty, Grant (Boon 60), McClurg, Cornell, Maloney, Bowerman. Subs not used: Davies, Smith, Chamberlain.
Thatcham Town: Rackley, Hughes, Browne, James (Deller 76), Thomas (Jacobs 69), Leonetti, Tennant, Melledew, Lewis (Helmore 58), Johnson, Willmoth. Sub not used: Walters.
Main image: Adam Cornell closing down by Neil Graham.