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Bracknell Town 3
Cornell (13', 32', 68')
3 Kingstonian
Buchanan (27', 80'), Dymond (57')

Bracknell Town win 5-4 on penalties

Bracknell Town pip K’s on penalties

Kingstonian fell at the first hurdle in the Velocity Sports Trophy after six goals were shared in 90 minutes and penalties decided an exhilarating tie in favour of Bracknell Town.

The outcome against lower-league opposition, recently promoted from the Hellenic League, was a disappointing one, but K’s did at least show signs of life, particularly in attack. Louis Theophanous and Elliot Buchanan looked the genuinely thrilling strike partnership up front we all hoped they would, and it was the former Staines man who was the pick of our bunch, netting two brilliant free-kicks. They proved in vain on a glorious summer evening at Larges Lane, a revamped venue with plush sofas in the bar and a pitchside boardroom and diner.

K’s started well, with Buchanan shooting wide and Theophanous forcing the home keeper into a decent stop. But as has already too often been the case this term, a defensive mishap gifted the opposition the lead. A header from the recently re-signed Sean Francis didn’t have enough on it to reach Rob Tolfrey, and Bracknell striker Adam Cornell raced clear and just about forced his lob into the net.

Buchanan swiftly opened his account in a K’s shirt with a bending free-kick that cleared the wall and found the top corner. He made it look enjoyably easy.

But parity didn’t last long, Cornell heading in his second from close range at the conclusion of a left-wing move that left K’s perplexed.

There was still time before the break for Leo Chambers to sustain a suspected broken toe which would have deeper Leigh Dynan’s misery. He and his assistants had a lengthy conflab before heading to join the players in the dressing room.

Whatever was said seemed to work as K’s levelled again. Tommy Brewer, who moved from right-back to centre-back after Chambers’ injury, had already had a powerful header tipped over by Mark Scott, but there was nothing he could do to keep out Connor Dymond’s effort from another right-sided corner. 2-2.

Not for long. This time a good move from the hosts down their right exposed our backline, and it was that man Cornell in the right place at the right time to complete his hat-trick.

What did K’s have left? Another top-level Buchanan free-kick, that was what. The former Staines man had been denied from a dead ball earlier in the second half by Scott, but for his third attempt from the 25-yard mark, he opted to whip the ball into the top corner of the net the keeper was guarding. It was so well hit, with such vicious dip, Scott’s dive was in vain. 3-3.

The fun didn’t stop there, but the scoring did. Sub Muhammadu Faal should have put K’s ahead for the first time but he could only volley against the top of the bar with the goal gaping. Theophanous set that chance up, and he nearly snatched victory with virtually the last kick, thwarted only by the sprawling Scott. The Robins had their own golden chance to prevent penalties, but a sweet header rattled against the bar and rebounded out before a blur of yellow shirts threw themselves in front of the rebound.

It had been a cup match befitting of the great Alan Turvey, and now it required a winner. Tolfrey saved the first penalty but Scott kept out Toby Ajala’s effort to take it, fittingly, to sudden death. Manolis Gogonas was the second K’s man to see his spot-kick parried, and with it went our hopes of repeating our 2016 success in this competition.

Match report by Rupert Cane.

Published Wednesday 12th September 2018