BRITISH Gas engineer Jon Bennett turned up the heat on the competition for places in the Bracknell Town attack by scoring twice in the 4-1 win over Lydney at Larges Lane on Saturday, writes Dave Wright.

The striker has had to warm the substitutes bench for much of the season while watching Adam Cornell and TJ Bohane firing in the goals.

But with leading scorer Cornell on a business trip to America, Bennett got a rare place in the starting line-up alongside Bohane and it was his second-half brace that sealed the victory that keeps Town in hot pursuit of the Hellenic League’s runaway leaders Highworth Town.

Fourth-placed Robins have closed the gap to 17 points with four games in hand, but it is Thatcham who are currently looking the biggest threat to Highworth in the title race.

The Kingfishers have moved up a couple of gears since signing Liam Ferdinand from Bracknell – he scored four goals in their 6-0 win over Royal Wootton Bassett last weekend – and now lie second in the table, six points behind Highworth with a game in hand and seven points better off than Wantage, who are four points ahead of Bracknell.

So Town have some catching up to do, but they are certainly capable of doing it, especially when playing at home.

They have turned Larges Lane into a fortress, with 11 wins and a draw from their 12 home fixtures so far.

So it came as something of a shock when out-of-form Lydney, who had lost their previous five games, grabbed a 10th-minute lead against the run of play.

Keeper Chris Grace went up for Josh Bennai’s right-wing cross, but was challenged by Ross Gabriel and the ball slipped from his grasp, leaving Lewis Halford with a simple tap-in. Grace complained he had been fouled, but the ref rejected his appeal.

On a day when there was free admission, a good-sized crowd of 256 saw Town continue to do much more of the attacking and it took them just six minutes to level with Bohane sweeping home Bennett’s pass.

Soon afterwards, Bohane put Bennett in the clear, only to see him shoot wide from a good position.

Although Bracknell continued to dominate the game, the visitors missed a good chance to regain the lead when the unmarked Gabriel headed over the bar from close range.

The miss proved costly for the visitors, as Town went ahead in stoppage time at the end of the first half. Right-back Dave Hancock played a good ball into the area and Bohane turned it past keeper Richard Thomas for his 17th goal of the season.

Bracknell, without the injured Joe Grant in addition to Cornell, needed only three minutes of the second half to stretch their lead when skipper Carl Davies helped create the opening for Bennett.

Bracknell continued to enjoy the better of the game and had strong appeals for a penalty turned down when Bohane appeared to be impeded by Liam Sheppard.

With a little over 10 minutes remaining, Bohane and Kensley Maloney were replaced by Dan Roberts, returning from injury, and Khalid Senussi, and both substitutes were involved in the build-up to the fourth goal in the 86th minute.

Justin Clayton was also up in attack and it was the big centre-back who knocked the ball back across goal for Bennett to score, taking his season’s tally into double figures.

The fact that three defenders were involved in the build-up to goals underlined Bracknell’s attacking intentions, while left-back Ryan Parsons turned in another outstanding performance, as he had in both FA Vase ties with Blackfield & Langley.

The Robins are away to 14th-placed Abingdon United this Saturday (3pm), a side that have shown improved form of late.

Then next Tuesday (7.45pm) Bracknell host Evo-Stik South League side Slough in the quarter-finals of the Berks & Bucks Senior Cup.