Bracknell Town’s FA Cup dreams died for another year on Saturday afternoon as they lost 4-0 against Winchester City at a blustery Larges Lane. It all could have been so different for the Robins if Cornell’s great strike had been a few inches lower. Alas, it rebounded from the bar and it was Winchester City who scored twice in the first half with two very well taken goals.
The Citizens opened the scoring ten minutes from half-time when left-back Andy Jenkinson ran with the ball, and with most of the crowd expecting the ball to be played wide to a winger, Jenkinson struck a low shot into the bottom left corner of Chris Grace’s goal.
It was a disappointing goal for Bracknell to concede, as up until that point they had more than matched their Southern League opponents. Unfortunately for Bracknell it didn’t get any better before the interval as Rob Carr doubled the visitors’ lead with the goal of the game as he cut inside Rob Gerrard before striking from range into the same corner his team mate had put the ball minutes earlier.
The home side could certainly feel a little unfortunate to be two goals down at the interval. Both Joe Gater and Carl Davies had headers cleared off the line, while Seb Bowerman was denied by a smart save from Ryan Price after he’d finally got away from his marker. Winchester City were enjoying their time on Bracknell’s 3G pitch so much they spent most of half-time sat outside on the pitch, seemingly keen to get back playing as soon as possible.
Despite being 2-0 down there was confidence among the Larges Lane faithful that their team could still get something from the game. However, a second booking for Bracknell left-back Gerrard a few minutes after the restart made an already uphill task almost impossible. It is the second red card the team have suffered this season following Carl Davies’ opening day red against Ascot United.
The ten-men of Bracknell battled manfully for a while and almost pulled a goal back with twenty-five minutes to go. Carl Davies began a long marauding raid from his centre-half position before feeding Seb Bowerman. The wide-man’s cross eluded Liam Ferdinand and Josh Hennah on the far post couldn’t quite control the ball as it bounced up at him.
With Bracknell one player short their game began to become more disjointed as they chased a way back into the game. Winchester’s forward players began to exert more control over the game and with 15 minutes left they made it 3-0 when centre-half Rob Flooks poked home a rebound from his own header. It was harsh on Chris Grace who is unlikely to have many busier afternoons this season than he experienced today.
Only a few minutes remained when Winchester scored their fourth and final goal of the afternoon with their fourth different scorer, centre-forward Pat Cox stroking the ball home from a cross by substitute Hill.
Overall it was a frustrating day for Bracknell who exit the competition at the same stage as as last season. Their opponents showed today the sort of standards Bracknell need to emulate if they wish to progress up the leagues. Perhaps the biggest positive to take from the afternoon was that the game went ahead at all after the bar area was heavily water damaged during the week. Bracknell Town now have a week to recover before they host Woodley United at home in the league next Saturday.