HAD VAR been in operation at Larges Lane on Saturday then Bracknell may not have been awarded the penalty which enabled Liam Ferdinand to secure a 1-0 win over Chipstead, writes Dave Wright.

Robins substitute Joe Grant went to ground as keeper Taye Ashby-Hammond tried to get hold of the ball and the referee pointed to the spot.

If there was a touch, it looked very slight and Grant was honest enough to admit later it may not have been a penalty.

Chipstead's protests were waved aside before Ferdinand fired home from 12 yards.

But Town manager Geoff Warner reckoned they should have been awarded two penalties earlier in the game, although his side appeared a little fortunate not to have conceded one themselves.

It was no real surprise a free shot from 12 yards decided the game, as generally, Town's finishing lacked its usual accuracy by some distance.

Smart approach work saw the hosts create plenty of openings, but they found it difficult to break down a well-drilled Chipstead defence, while 20-year-old Ashby-Hammond, who is on loan from Fulham, was outstanding.

Frustration was beginning to creep into Bracknell's play and with the game approaching the last 20 minutes it seemed pretty obvious changes needed to be made.

Rather than doing it all at once, three substitutes were sent on in quick succession, starting with Grant replacing Adam Cornell in the 72nd minute, while three minutes later Kensley Maloney took over from Ash Artwell, followed moments later by Jordan Brown for Seb Bowerman.

And the fresh legs certainly made the difference. Ten minutes after his arrival, Grant's persistence led to the penalty incident which saw Ferdinand power home the 82nd-minute winner, his 35th goal of the season.

Soon afterwards, Grant was only inches away from scoring after being put in the clear by Maloney.

Then in stoppage time, after Grant's effort had been blocked, Brown's acrobatic attempt flew just wide.

Chipstead ended the game with 10 men as Sam Bell was sent off for hauling down Harrison Bayley in midfield.

However, Bracknell missed a chance to seal the runners-up spot in the South Central Division of the Bostik League when they crashed 4-2 at Westfield on Monday.

And, depending on the results this Saturday, these two teams could meet again in the play-off semi-finals at Larges Lane next Tuesday. If they do, then the Woking-based club will certainly start with a psychological advantage as they were generally the better side.

They were quick going forward and their defence stayed well organised, limiting the Robins to only a handful of noteworthy chances. For the first time since their 7-2 hiding at Ware last December, Town managed fewer goal attempts than their opponents.

It was a generally disappointing display against their play-off rivals and, though they missed a couple of chances themselves, the Robins would have suffered an even bigger defeat had it not been for Mark Scott, who once again showed why he is arguably the best goalie in the division.

Both sides went close before Aaron Watson fired the hosts ahead after Scott had blocked his initial attempt after 10 minutes and eight minutes later Elijah Simpson doubled the lead.

Having changed their formation to 4-4-2, Town started to look more threatening and on 37 minutes they forced a free-kick out on the right which Joel Jacobs drove low into the net to get his side back in the game.

But they would still have fallen further behind had it not been for Scott, who pulled off two more excellent saves.

Just after the hour mark, the Robins made two substitutions with Cornell and Bowerman taking over from Artwell and Brown, and they drew level in the 65th minute.

A Jacobs free-kick caused mayhem in front of the Westfield goal and the ball ricocheted around before the ball went into the net off a defender – the second own goal they have gifted Town this season.

However, four minutes later Town fell behind again when Tinashe Nkoma was put through by Watson.

They never looked like recovering and substitute Dylan Cascoe made it 4-2 in the sixth minute of stoppage time, having earlier missed a real sitter.