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5-6 December

Puhlsport football kitremier Division

Bracknell Town 5 Windsor 0
A sensational 17-minute four-goal blitz set Bracknell Town on their way to a resounding 5-0 win over Windsor in their Uhlsport Hellenic League clash at Larges Lane on Tuesday.Yet the Robins were slow to get going in this Hellenic League match involving two sides who had recorded good away wins in the FA Vase on Saturday – with Town winning 1-0 at Lordswood and Windsor 2-1 at Walton & Hersham. In front of a crowd of nearly 250, the visitors shaded the early stages and when Bracknell did get going, they were wasteful in front of goal.

Colin Mugoya shot wide and fellow midfielder Jamie McClurg had a long-range effort pushed away by keeper Hugo Sobte. But then the Robins went goal crazy, exposing Windsor's lack of height and organisation at the back. Towering Justin Clayton headed down McClurg's corner for Adam Cornell to poke the ball home in the 25th minute for his 25th goal of the season, and two minutes later Mugoya set up on Jon Bennett for the second goal.

Bennett was foiled by Sobte before McClurg and Clayton combined again with Joe Grant this time supplying the finishing touch to make it three goals in eight minutes. In the 42nd minute, a typical Grant run teed up Bennett and it was 4-0, although by now it could so easily been six or seven.

The second half failed to match the excitement of the first and the game became a little scrappy at times. Windsor, having tightened up in defence and made substitutions, started to create scoring chances, but keeper Chris Grace was in top form, making several fine saves including two efforts from veteran striker Barry Hayles late in the game. Town had the final say when two minutes from time substitute Carl Withers put Grant through for his second and Town's fifth goal, taking his season's tally to 15. Last Saturday, Grant scored the only goal of the game, on 10 minutes, when Bracknell defeated Lordswood to reach the last 32 of the FA Vase for the first time since the 1985-86 season. They will now visit Wessex League side Blackfield & Langley, near Southampton, on January 6. Bet Victor have installed Bracknell as the 8-1 third favourites to lift win the Vase at Wembley, although Betway are offering more generous odds of 16-1.

Speaking after the Windsor game, joint-manager Jeff Lamb said: "Obviously, we were pleased with the scoreline and the fact we kept another clean sheet. But I thought we looked a little lethargic at times. We didn't start well, which is another concern, but we had a good patch towards the end of the first half to score four goals. Then in the second half we again didn't hit the ground running and the game died a bit, so on that side it was disappointing, but a clean sheet and five goals at home is a positive.
"Windsor are a decent outfit and were a tough nut to crack."

The Robins make the long trek down to Gloucestershire to play Longlevens this Saturday and the journey will be even longer as the M4 is closed in the Reading area this weekend.

Bracknell Town 5 Windsor 0 (away view)
Windsor went into this match full of confidence after the FA Vase victory on Saturday over Walton & Hersham. For the first 20 minutes of this match we looked to be in the game and equal. By the break we were out of contention with a 4 goal deficit. Goals on 25 and 27 minutes from Adam Cornell and Jon Bennett put us on the back foot with further goals in 33 minutes from Joe Grant and a second for Bennett on 41 minutes.
We came out for the second period and defended well and had some decent scoring chances with Barry Hayles and substitute Gus Bowles going close. On 88 minutes Bracknell sealed the excellent win with a 5th goal and a second from Grant.
Bracknell will definitely be in the pack when the leagues final outcome is decided in April. 

A mention for Windsor keeper Hugo Sobte who made some superb saves in both halves of the match.

Royal Wootton Bassett 3 Tuffley Rovers 4 (away view)
In a quite extraordinary game, Tuffley Rovers twice fought back to claim all three points from their visit to Royal Wootton Bassett Town on Wednesday evening, with a Warren Mann goal, deep into injury time, enough to secure a vital win. Following a second consecutive defeat on Saturday, Rovers boss Mark Pritchett made two changes to his starting line-up, with Macaulay Herbert, who was unavailable, replaced by Liam Wright and Ash Bird restored to the side, ahead of youngster Will Emery, who was included on the substitutes bench.

In difficult conditions, with a strong wind in their faces, Rovers started brightly, with Wright particularly prominent, combining an attacking threat to compliment his defensive duties, and nine minutes in, after a surging run which saw him evade several challenges, he set up the first chance of note, but Kieran Alder’s shot went narrowly over the Wootton Bassett bar, as he ran onto a nicely weighted pass from Rovers’ left-back. The windy conditions were very much in the hosts’ favour in the early stages and they almost took the lead 12 minutes in, when Adam Corcoran’s punt was carried over the Rovers back four and Pritchett had good reason to be grateful to his Player/Assistant Manager, Shayne Anson, who produced an excellent block tackle to deny Lewis Waldon the chance to open the scoring. After their frailty against set pieces the previous weekend, the Rovers manager would have been pleased to see the solid defending from the subsequent free-kick, as the two Shayne’s, Bradley and Anson, combined to clear the ball.

Despite the tricky conditions, Rovers were arguably the better side in the opening throes and Mann went close to opening the scoring, as he looked to latch onto Brett James’ cross, but he was denied by a good challenge by Bassett’s Chris Jackson that saw the ball away from goal. Rovers’ keeper, Eric Edge, had been relatively inactive in the opening 25 minutes, but he was called on to make an excellent save, as he beat away Rory Sproule’s effort, from a Harvey Scholes cross. That proved only a temporary reprieve, though, and within 30 seconds Sproule found space in the box to fire low beyond Edge, to hand Bassett the lead.

Within four minutes, Rovers looked to be facing a mountain, as they fell further behind. Sproule was once again the scorer, as he produced an opportunist finish, after Gio Wrona’s blocked shot fell into his path at the far post, and he made no mistake bundling the ball home, with Edge helpless to prevent the hosts taking a two goal lead. If Pritchett had any concerns that the confidence restored by the unbeaten run his side had been on, prior to the defeats against Binfield and Flackwell Heath on the last two Saturdays, it appeared as though he had nothing to fear, as his team reduced the arrears just six minutes later. Bradley, who has been amongst the goals in the past month, was the beneficiary of an excellent cross by Mann and the veteran striker found time and space to plant a header beyond Daniel Lawrence, in the Bassett goal, and make it 2-1.

With 39 minutes gone, Rovers thought they had restored parity, but the luckless Bird, who has been without a goal since signing from Brimscombe & Thrupp, saw his close range finished ruled out, for offside, despite claims that Bradley’s supporting header had gone square across the goal. When a breathless first period ended, six minutes later, Rovers entered the interval trailing 2-1, despite a positive performance that would have given Pritchett plenty to build upon during the half-time interval.

The second half started in a similar manner to the first, with Rovers on the front foot and Mann almost combined with Bradley again, but the former’s cross was just too far in front of the latter and Lawrence was untroubled. Mann then tried his luck, but his well struck – and wind assisted – effort from 25 yards went narrowly wide of the goal. Sam Hill then teed up James, but the former Gloucester City man was unable to get a significant touch to a wind-assisted free-kick and the chance passed.

Rovers did finally get reward for their efforts, on 65 minutes, as Alder showed good composure, capitalising on the loose ball, after Lawrence had saved Mann’s shot from 16 yards, to turn and fire the ball home, making it 2-2. The joy that had accompanied Alder’s leveller quickly dissipated, however. Wright, who had been excellent in his return to the left-back position, gifted the hosts possession deep in Rovers territory and Wrona’s cross was turned into his own net by Anson, as the defender tried to turn the ball away from goal.

What followed was an absorbing encounter, with the hosts looking to kill time at every opportunity, whilst also offering a counter-attacking threat, in opposition to Rovers’ efforts to capitalise on favourable conditions and the territorial advantage they had established. Bradley went close, late in the game, but Lawrence was able to produce a scrambling save to keep out a well flighted free-kick from 20 yards, and it looked like Rovers’ efforts might be in vain. Hill’s effort sixty seconds later, was comfortably saved, and Bassett retained the lead with time almost up.

However, as the game moved into added time, two substitutes had an impact, as Pritchett’s men drew level. First, Emery produced a beautiful turn on the edge of the box, which invited a last-ditch clearance from Jackson, and then, from the resultant corner, Alex O’Leary used the wind to curl his kick just under the hosts’ crossbar and into the goal, despite Lawrence’s efforts to keep it out. Four minutes into added time, with the game almost over, a highly competitive game took a final, dramatic twist, as Mann, who had been a constant threat on the left-hand flank, picked up the ball on the edge of the area and eventually worked enough space to produce a beautifully struck ball beyond Lawrence’s despairing dive and into the top corner of the Royal Wootton Bassett net.

Holding the lead for the first time in the evening, Rovers saw out the remaining moments and when the referee’s whistle sounded, drawing a close to an absorbing fixture, the visiting team were left to celebrate an incredible display that full warranted the three points which accompanied it.


One East


One West

Cirencester Town Development 5 Letcombe 1 (away view)
Letcombe produced one of their worst performances of the season, and were comprehensively beaten by a Cirencester side who adapted much more readily to the artificial surface than the visitors.   Letcombe were guilty of giving the ball away too easily, and they were punished midway through the first half when they were penalised in an attempt to regain possession, and Dan Roberts hit a brilliant free kick into the top corner of the net from 20 yards.   The hosts increased their lead as half time approached when another misplaced pass allowed Cirencester to play a through ball for Dan Gudger to finish clinically.   They scored a third with the last kick of the half, Gudger converting a right wing low cross at the far post.

Letcombe had the better of the early exchanges in the second half, and Ben Hummel just failed to connect at the near post with a low free kick from Danny Lachacz, and then Jack Heggie was put clear on the right, but his cross evaded everyone.   Adam Bruce had a chance to shoot, but was quickly tackled, and Cirencester broke away to add a fourth, Dan Roberts again curling a free kick into the top corner.   Letcombe appealed for a penalty when a shot from Tinashe Gwavava appeared to be stopped on the line with an outstretched arm, but the referee did not agree.   Gwavava pulled a goal back with an excellent strike from 20 yards over the head of home keeper Dan Gough, but Robbie Jones added a fifth for Cirencester with a fierce rising shot with 10 minutes remaining.

On this performance, it is difficult to understand how Cirencester are in the lower half of the league table, as they looked a very accomplished side.


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