A SUPERB display of attacking football in the first half and a stout defensive display in the second earned Bracknell Town a 2-1 win over Blackfield & Langley in their FA Vase fourth-round replay at Larges Lane on Tuesday, writes Dave Wright.

It puts the Robins through to the last 16, where they will be away to the winners of this Saturday’s replay between Coleshill and Newcastle Benfield.

Midlands League leaders Coleshill, who have a similar 3G pitch to Bracknell, were beaten semi-finalists last year, going down to eventual winners South Shields, while Newcastle are currently 13th in the Northern League but odds-on to win the replay.

To still be in the competition is something of an achievement as Bracknell were close to going out at Blackfield last Saturday, trailing 2-1 going into time added on. But Jamie McClurg came to their rescue with a late equaliser, smashing the ball home left-footed from the edge of the area.

Earlier Seb Bowerman, from the penalty spot, and substitute TJ Bohane had brought Robins level – the latter in extra time – after the Wessex League side had gone ahead on three occasions.

The hosts had also played with 10 men from late in the first half when goalkeeper Brad Snelling was sent off for bringing down Kensley Maloney.

Town made two changes for the replay, with Bohane taking over from Maloney and Justin Clayton replacing the injured Joe Gater at the heart of the defence. There was also a change of formation with two up front after Adam Cornell had been their lone striker on Saturday.

A crowd close to 400 witnessed a rousing cup tie with Town playing at pace and stringing together dangerous attacking moves.

The early pressure paid off in the ninth minute. Carl Davies delivered a superbly-accurate long diagonal ball to Bowerman wide on the left, and he cut inside before crossing for Bohane to turn home at the near post.

Bowerman and Joe Grant, on the opposite flank, were a constant threat and it was a foul on Grant that earned Town a 28th-minute penalty, which Bowerman dispatched for his 17th goal of the season.

Grant went close to adding a third before half time, cracking a rising shot against the crossbar.

In the second half, Town became less of an attacking force, being pushed back as Blackfield stepped up a couple of notches in a bid to get back into the game.

Town defended well – with Ryan Parsons making one particularly brave block – and it was only a penalty, conceded by Chris Grace,which gave the visitors the chance to reduce the arrears through Franklyn Clarke in the 81st minute.

It meant a nervy finish for Bracknell, but they held out for a thoroughly deserved victory to keep alive their dream of a Wembley final.

The fifth round takes place on February 3. In the meantime, the Robins need to concentrate on picking up Hellenic League points, currently trailing runaway leaders Highworth by 20 points.

“We have (five) games in hand on them and they still have to come to our place, so the title race is far from over, that’s for definite,” said Robins joint-manager Jeff Lamb.

His side host Lydney on Saturday with Lamb adding: “This is a massive game for us.

“After losing at Highworth we have bounced back well in the Vase this week and we will be going all out for three points.”

Next Tuesday (7.30pm) the Robins visit Ardley United in the third round of the Bluefin Sports Cup and are expected to field a team including fringe and reserve players.

Ascot United followed up last Saturday’s 1-1 draw with Abingdon United by holding high-flying Flackwell Heath to 2-2 on Tuesday.

The Yellamen scored twice inside the opening 10 minutes through Mo Davies and Barry Dunbar, but the visitors hit back to level before half time.

Neil Richards’ men are away to third-placed Wantage Town this Saturday.