BRACKNELL Town overcame the sending off of Joe Gater to defeat Flackwell Heath 3-2 in their top-of-the-table clash at a rain-lashed Larges Lane on Saturday, writes Dave Wright.

Both sides had gone into the match unbeaten in the Hellenic League with the visitors having moved into pole position following their midweek 1-0 win at Abingdon United.

But the Heathens were sent toppling thanks to goals from Philip John, George Short and Jon Bennett.

New signing John was making his full debut, having impressed when coming on a substitute in the 2-2 draw at Highmoor Ibis the previous Monday.

Playing on the left wing in place of holiday-maker Seb Bowerman, the former Marlow player struck after just eight minutes, swivelling onto a right-wing cross from Liam Ferdinand before firing low, inside the left-hand post.

It was the first time Town had scored a first-half goal in four games.

Town doubled their lead on 25 minutes with a peach of a goal. Left-back Josh Hannah sent a long, diagonal pass over to the right flank, where Joe Grant took the ball in his stride before crossing for midfielder Short to turn into the net for his third goal in successive games.

With Flackwell looking jittery in defence at times, Town could quite easily have increased their advantage before the break.

Ferdinand saw his effort blocked, while skipper Carl Davies, playing up front, had a shot tipped over the bar by keeper David Lyons.

Just before the interval, however, they suffered a blow when Ferdinand was forced to limp off, the result of a crunching tackle earlier on. He was replaced by Bennett.

Town had their lead cut in the 52nd minute when the ball bounced up off Gater’s body onto his hands to concede a penalty, which Dean Allen converted. It seemed a harsh decision, with even some Flackwell players looking surprised.

Boosted by this goal, the Heathens upped the pressure and the last thing Bracknell needed was to lose a player. But that is what happened when Gater held back an opponent to commit his second yellow card offence of the afternoon and it was an early shower for the centre-back.

Town scored a third in the 89th minute when a combination of Jamie McClurg and substitute Kane Fitzgerald sent Bennett away and he rounded the keeper before rolling the ball into the net.

It was the second successive Saturday that Bennett had come off the bench to net Town’s third goal, and, like the previous week against Abingdon United, it proved a match winner, with Jamie Essex getting a second for Flackwell in stoppage time.

Robins make the long journey to Gloucestershire on Saturday to play Brimscombe & Thrupp (3pm) and will be missing the suspended Gater, but Cornell is expected to return.

Their home Berks & Bucks Senior Cup tie against Aylesbury, which had been scheduled for next Tuesday, has been put back to Tuesday, October 10.