CHRIS Grace came within millimetres of being Bracknell Town’s saviour at Highworth on Saturday, writes Dave Wright.

With the Robins trailing 1-0 to their Hellenic League Premier Division title rivals, the big goalkeeper moved upfield in the closing stages to head Jamie McClurg’s corner against the post.

Had it gone in, Town would have secured the point they deserved against the runaway leaders.

Instead, it was their first defeat in nine league games stretching back to October and it leaves them a whopping 19 points behind Highworth, albeit with four games in hand.

If they are to overhaul the Worthians, Town will need to win virtually all of their remaining 16 games. That’s a tall order, but certainly not out of the question.

Finishing runners-up could also earn promotion, but the second spot is currently occupied by Thatcham, who are 11 points better off than Bracknell having played three more games.

The Kingfishers are currently in a rich vein of form, a run which started shortly after Liam Ferdinand had joined them from Bracknell.

The striker scored another two goals in their 2-0 win at Longlevens on a day when the side he left rarely looked capable of beating another ex-Robin, Garry Aulsberry, in the Highworth goal.

Seb Bowerman, who had a rising drive palmed over the bar by Aulsberry, and Joe Grant, with a few strong runs, worked hard to carve out scoring chances, but Adam Cornell and TJ Bohane had very few opportunities to add to their season’s combined tally of 40 goals this season.

Town also found it difficult to take control of the midfield and it was in defence where Bracknell were seen at their best as they extended their run of not conceding a league goal to more than five and a half games.

Joe Gater, with a fine block, and Carl Davies, making a goal-line clearance, came to their side’s rescue after the Wiltshire side had created more chances in the opening 10 minutes of the second half than they had in the whole of the first period.

And the pressure paid off on 65 minutes when Callum Parsons, netting for the 31st time this season, let fly from 30 yards with the ball striking teammate Aaron Ferris on the back of his head as it arrowed into the top left-hand corner, giving Grace no chance.

Bracknell, whose four league defeats have all come on their travels, didn’t deserve to lose although they were some way below their best with too many key players having an off day.

Going from their own flat 3G carpet at Larges Lane to a place like the Elms is never easy with its undulations and uneven surface, while the wind also didn’t help on Saturday. It was by no means a classic between these two title contenders and, for Bracknell, a disappointing way to end 2017.

Last Wednesday’s postponed fixture at Binfield adds to Town’s growing backlog of fixtures and they will be playing two games a week for much of January.

Their Bluefin Sport Hellenic League Cup tie at Ardley United has been re-arranged for Tuesday, January 16, the home Berks & Bucks Senior Cup tie with Slough goes ahead a week later on January 23 and the Perpetua Press Floodlit Cup game away to Didcot Town Reserves is arranged for Tuesday, January 30.