Marlow lost 1-0 to Bracknell Town in a crucial match in the race for the runners-up spot in the South Central Division on Saturday.

They had started the day level on points with Bracknell and Cheshunt, but suffered a hammer blow with the loss against their rivals.

Town had been forced to make a change earlier in the game as Joel Jacobs suffered a nasty cut close to his eye in a collision for a high ball with keeper Simon Grant, who came down on top of him.

Although named on the team sheet, Carl Davies had been forced to pull out and, so with no defensive cover on his sub’s bench, Warner sent on utility man Sean Moore to fill the gap at left wing-back.

Before his departure, however, Jacobs had been involved in the 13th-minute goal, delivering a perfect right-wing corner for centre-back Gater to move into an empty space and head home inside the near post.

It was a lead the visitors rarely looked like relinquishing.

They had the measure of a Marlow side who last Tuesday had beaten National League South side Slough 1-0 to reach the Berks & Bucks Senior Cup final, where they will play Reading Under 23s, the conquerors of Bracknell in the second round.

Town enjoyed the better of the opening half and went close to doubling their lead when Joe Grant headed narrowly wide from a Rodgers corner before Moore saw his fierce shot deflected behind for a corner.

In the second half, however, they created very few scoring opportunities and the same could be said about Marlow.

The hosts did occasionally threaten by delivering low crosses into the area, but no-one was around to supply the finishing touch.

Marlow substitute Marcus Mealing almost equalised after forcing his way through, but keeper Mark Scott was quickly off his line to avert the danger.

The game became scrappy at times and, as far as entertainment value, fell short of the previous week’s game at Hayes, but Bracknell thoroughly deserved all three points.

Marlow manager Mark Bartley commented: “Bracknell had a desire and determination to win the game, and we didn’t match it.”

Next up for Marlow is a trip round the M25 to face Waltham Abbey on Saturday afternoon (kick off 3pm) as they make a desperate bid to make up ground on Bracknell in the hope results go their way at the weekend.

After that, the Blues face another tricky test as they travel to the banks of the River Thames to face Molesey next Tuesday evening (7.45pm).