Mark Scott celebrates. Photo: Neil Graham / ngsportsphotography.com

Mark Scott the hero as Bracknell Town make it through in FA Cup

It was a tasty FA Cup tie that had everything - a hotly-contested 90 minutes, a red card and then a penalty shoot-out, plus, unfortunately, a few alleged incidents after the final whistle
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Mark Scott celebrates. Photo: Neil Graham / ngsportsphotography.com

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Bracknell beat Marlow 4-3 on penalties after this second qualifying round tie had ended 2-2 at Larges Lane on Saturday.

Yet, it nearly didn’t place as the heavy rain had left a lot of water lying on the artificial surface and it needed a team of volunteers to mop up to get the game on.

Robins went two goals up through a Seb Bowerman brace, only for the Blues to hit back with their first two shots on target, one from the penalty spot despite being down to 10 men at the time following the first-half dismissal of Curtis Ujah.

Keeper Mark Scott became Town’s hero in the shoot-out with two saves, the second from former Robin Harrison Bayley.

Seb Bowerman is congratulated after scoring. Photo: Neil Graham / ngsportsphotography.com

But before all the Bracknell players could reach their dressing room, there was an incident or two that led to them being kept out on the pitch.

What occurred was serious enough for a club official to dial 999 and within minutes several police officers arrived at the ground.

You can’t believe all that is said on Twitter and this was again the case here with one so-called witness saying one thing and another something a bit different.

Police took statements at the ground and later at the police station.

On Saturday afternoon though, it was a feisty encounter between the two South Central Division rivals, particularly in the opening stages.

The first 15 minutes saw two yellow cards for Marlow and one for Bracknell, with referee James Robinson stopping the game to issue a warning via the respective captains – Max Herbert and Chris Ovenden.

It was Herbert who set up the first goal in the 19th minute, his right-wing cross being neatly turned home by Bowerman.

Soon afterwards, Town’s Michael Atkinson, making his return from injury, and Ovenden were involved in a nasty clash of heads in an aerial battle, which drew blood and forced both to retire injured.

It got worse for Marlow in the 40th minute when they were reduced to 10 men, centre-back Ujah fouling Joe Grant as the forward surged through the middle and was shown his second yellow card of the game, although it did look a straight red-card offence.

Mickell Platt. Photo: Neil Graham / ngsportsphotography.com

Bobby Wilkinson’s men were good value for their half-time lead as they were the more dominant side, creating several good chances, whilst their defence snuffed out the threat of the visitors’ attack.

There was no let-up from Bracknell at the start of the second half and it took them only six minutes to double their lead with the in-form Bowerman again on target, taking his tally to five goals in the last three games.

Soon afterwards, it needed a fine save by keeper Simon Grant to prevent Herbert from extending his side’s lead.

A confident Bracknell looked in full flow – but then they gave Marlow a lifeline. Caden Genovesi handled the ball when looking to hold off Jordan Brown to give away a penalty, which Brown dispatched, the ball coming back down from the underside of the net.

It was Marlow’s first decent shot at goal and their second also hit the target with James Clark running into space unchallenged to head home Brown’s accurately floated free-kick in the 71st minute.

So for the second successive Saturday, Town had squandered a two-goal advantage in the second half.

For the rest of the game, Marlow seemed happy to slow things down, presumably happy to take the tie to penalties.

Bracknell Town’s players following the FA Cup penalty shootout win. Photo: Neil Graham / ngsportsphotography.com

Grant had been their hero in the penalty shoot-out at Frimley Green, but this time the goalie did not get anywhere near to stopping the Bracknell spot kickers.

There was an early advantage to Robins with Scott diving low to his right to push out the first from Junaid Bell, but he was beaten by the next three, while Louie Soares, Herbert and Bowerman made no mistake for Town.

The next, taken by Grant, struck the foot of the left-hand post before Scott made a comfortable save from Bayley to give Dan Bayliss the chance to win it for Bracknell and the centre-back made no mistake with a powerful blast straight down the middle.

It would have been nice had that brought an end to an entertaining cup tie, but unfortunately, it didn’t and we must now wait to see if there is to be any action taken by the police and/or the FA.

Social distancing, particularly at the end of the game, was also less than satisfactory, though it was extremely difficult with the attendance very close to the capacity of 400.

After the game, manager Wilkinson revealed that the tie had been very close to being called off.

“At 10 o’clock this morning it didn’t look as if the match would be on as the pitch was completely flooded,” he said.

“The chairman had to call in 10 people to pump all the water off in order to get this game on today. So I want to dedicate our win to all those volunteers who turned up.

“Also, I can’t thank my players enough for getting us into the next round. They have made me a very proud manager.”

Correction: This article previously suggested there were messages exchanged on social media between the clubs, we can see having checked that that does not appear to be the case and have corrected the article. We’ve also been informed by Bracknell Town that there isn’t an FA investigation in to the match.

The full FiB round-up with all the scores and scorers from Saturday is here. Details of when the FA Cup Third Qualifying Round draw will be released are here. You can see all the midweek fixtures listed here.

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