Bridgwater United 3, Millbrook 3
Toolstation Western League
A THREE-hour trek to the Rame peninsular, via the wilds of a fog-shrouded Dartmoor, coupled with a high tempo Somerset Premier Cup tie less than 72 hours previously, were, perhaps, not the ideal ingredients for the challenge that lay in store at Jenkins Park yesterday, writes Bob Buckingham.
Add in the fact that multiple experienced players were missing through injury while others lined up in unfamiliar positions, the portents were not too encouraging.
Despite these reservations, the early exchanges in the warm September sunshine on an excellent pitch, were evenly balanced with the busy Williams quickly closing down the ‘keeper and creating a half chance for Woodrow.
Further efforts from Sturdy and Woodrow, the later after an outstanding passage of play involving virtually every United player, were repelled.
Three quick goals
As the game progressed, the Millbrook midfield began a period of significant dominance and control which yielded three answered goals in just 15 minutes. The first came from a searching ball played down the United right creating an opportunity for the wide man to cut inside and give Viney no chance.
Four minutes later, after a cross from the right was tipped on to the bar at full stretch by Viney, the resulting corner was smashed home at the far post to double the lead.
Things worsened as, once again, the visitors defence was unhinged by a quality ball, again down the right, with the cut back driven home to put the home side three ahead as the interval approached.
There were no changes to the visitors’ line-up as the second period commenced, although there were immediate signs that United were up for the challenge of establishing a foothold in the game.
Within three minutes of the restart King had the ball in the net but his effort was ruled out by the offside flag. Horton was now pushing forward from his unaccustomed role as a right back and it was his long range shot that created the next chance, but Woodrow was unable to convert.
Just short of the hour mark it was captain for the day, Viney, who was involved in what was a pivotal moment in the game as he leapt to his left to turn a goalbound effort onto the post and was back on his feet to block the rebound. The onrushing striker drove the ball home from an offside position ensuring the deficit remained unchanged.
With a third of the game remaining, there was clear evidence of a change in the game dynamic as United were increasingly having best of virtually all 50-50 challenges and dictating the tempo of the game as Duffy replaced the hardworking Woodrow.
The midfield was now controlled by Williams, Llewellyn and Sturdy who were now very much in the ascendency, and it was no surprise when the former was brought down in the box with 16 minutes remaining.
In the absence of Jake Llewellyn, up stepped leading scorer Taylor to confidently convert and give the Robins hope. Within minutes a crossfield ball from the impressive Edwards found Sturdy free on the left to cut inside to find the net.
At 3-2 and with seven minutes remaining, Hiroli replaced Williams to provide additional aerial presence. The home side were clearly rattled as the pressure continued to mount as their clearances and challenges became increasingly desperate.
Taylor was clearly enjoying the chaos being created around him and it wasn’t long before he was scythed down in the box for a second penalty. Seemingly completely unfazed by the responsibility of securing an unlikely point, he sent the keeper the wrong way to draw the scores level.
The remaining minutes saw the resurgent Robins continue to press for a fourth to claim what would have been a quite remarkable win, but their efforts were thwarted by a much-relieved home defence.
This was clearly a point gained rather than two dropped given the dire position after the first period. United will undoubtedly be pleased to make a long-awaited return to Fairfax Park where they are scheduled to play eight of their next ten league games.
Bridgwater: Jake Viney, Harry Horton, Jordan Greenwood, Harry Durant, Archie Sturdy, Tom Llewellyn, George King, Morgan Williams, Jack Taylor, Nick Woodrow. Subs Used: Mike Duffy, Adnan Hiroli. Subs Unused: Wellington Jimenez, Mark Armstrong.
Bridgwater scorers: Taylor 74 (pen), Sturdy 79, Taylor 85 (pen).