BRACKNELL Town joint manager Paul McGrotty believes his side will need to improve on last Saturday’s display if they are to make further progress in the Buildbase FA Vase and take another step closer to a Wembley final, writes Dave Wright.

“We are now at the last 32 stage and it is getting exciting, but we will have to play a lot better than we did at the weekend,” he admitted after the Robins had won 1-0 at Lordswood to earn a fourth-round tie away to Sydenhams Wessex League high-fliers Blackfield and Langley on January 6.

Based close to the massive Esso refinery at nearby Fawley, the Watersiders currently lie second in the Premier Division with 45 points from 20 games, 10 points behind leaders Andover with a game in hand. They won 1-0 at fourth-placed Sholing in the third round last Saturday.

Bracknell needed a 10th-minute goal from Joe Grant to overcome Southern Counties East League side Lordswood who battled all the way and very nearly grabbed a late equaliser.

McGrotty said: “This was a tricky game and we were pleased to make it to the next round. It doesn’t matter how you play in the a cup competition, the key is just getting through and we’ve done that.”

He and Jeff Lamb adopted a 4-5-1 formation and McGrotty commented: “We were pleased with how we set the team up with five in midfield as we needed it. If we had gone 4-4-2 it might have been too much for us.

“From the management side, we have to make tough calls each week and were pleased to get that right, even though it meant we had to leave out players who don’t deserve to be.”

Even so, this was not a typical display from the Town, who failed to capitalise on their early goal.

McGrotty continued: “We started well, our shape was good, we played with tempo in their third.

“But, strangely after the goal, we became a bit panicky and didn’t relax. We stopped doing the right things and invited pressure.

“At half time, we tried to put things right. Early in the second half we had a chance and had we gone 2-0 up I think we would have felt comfortable. But we continued to invite pressure and, fair play to them (Lordswood) they gave it a real good go.

“We had our backs to the wall at times and it was nice to keep a clean sheet, although I felt we were a bit fortunate to do that.”

McGrotty was impressed by the team’s work rate, epitomised by goalscorer and their man-of-the-match Grant.

“Joe was not feeling 100 per cent well, but for 90 minutes he was up and down,” he stated.

Bracknell are joined in the last 32 by league rivals Thatcham, who have been drawn at home to Biggleswade, and Windsor, who travel to Eastbourne Town.

The Robins have so far earned £2,850 from the FA Vase prize fund with another £1,125 on offer to the fourth-round winners.