Bridgwater stand
PHOTO: Debbie Gould

Horton shines as Bridgwater United progress to fourth round of the FA Vase

Bridgwater United 2 Bashley 1

Buildbase FA Vase, third round

FAIRFAX Park was a happy place to be as the Robins recovered from a goal down to deservedly battle back and win it late on, writes Mark Hollidge. 

Bashley, who are enjoying a strong season in the premier division of the Wessex League, made it far from easy but a relentless second half showing from United gradually wore them down.

With both teams enjoying successful seasons, and playing with confidence, it was always likely to be a game of close margins.

The two teams had met in the FA Vase four seasons ago and a goal from Harry Horton in extra time allowed Bridgwater Town to progress on that occasion. Horton showed his liking for playing the Bash, this time with a terrific all-round game and the vital equaliser.

Seven of the Town players from that game are still with the club.

The first half was fairly even. Jake Llewellyn took on a long range shot which was deflected but keeper Sammy Thompson showed good hands by holding onto the ball.

Soon after that Harrison White struck a low shot from just outside the penalty area that young Alex Rutter, deputising for the still injured Jake Viney, stopped well by diving full length and saving by the left post.

Slippery conditions

The pitch was a bit slippery, but the players got used to the conditions as the game went on. Tom Llewellyn ended a good run with a half-hit shot which caused Thompson no bother. Then, after 22 minutes Bashley went ahead. A neat exchange of passes gave Harry Bunce unmarked possession on the penalty spot. He prodded the ball past Rutter, who had no chance.

United now began to play with more drive and menace. The Llewellyn brothers’ link play allowed Morgan Williams a shot on the run, but he miscued from the edge of the box. The amount of effort that Williams put into this game was phenomenal. He wasn’t the only one.

United were very unlucky on the half hour. From a fairly tight angle on the left Ryan Brereton sized up a shot. He struck it sweetly across the keeper. It struck the inside of the far post and flew away.

Cunning plan

When United equalised after 37 minutes it was the result of a cunning plan. With a large clutch of players waiting at the far post for a Jake Llewellyn corner kick, the kick was pulled back to the untenanted front edge of the area. Horton ran on to it and controlled his low shot admirably into the right corner of the net – where there were no defenders.

Parity at the break was fair enough but United really upped a gear or two as soon as the second half got going. All over the park tackles were being won and players were being closed down effectively. United’s heroes seemed to be running for their lives and Bashley were placed under sustained pressure.

Williams delivered an inch perfect pass to Tom Llewellyn who was just inside the area and central. He controlled the ball, spun, and shot inches wide of the right post.

In a rare moment of some danger, White cleared the bar by a foot with an effort on the run. This was a brief diversion from the main task – attacking the Bashley goal. Horton’s two long range shots both missed the goal, but Williams went close on the hour. He cut inside a defender and lashed a powerful left footed shot which Thompson held at the second attempt.

On a plate

In a stunning piece of football Tom Llewellyn and Jack Taylor exchanged passes twice and Llewellyn laid the ball on a plate for the onrushing Adnan Hiroli who somehow failed to put United ahead. He probably struck the ball too well because it cleared the bar from only a few yards out. That one should have gone in.

As the game entered the last ten minutes it was clear that the visitors would be happy to take their chance on penalties. For corners and free kicks, they brought all of their players back into their packed penalty area.

Late winner

Nevertheless, United managed to find a way to win with nine minutes to go. Jake Llewellyn claimed his second assist of the game when his in-swinging corner kick was firmly headed in from close range by Ross Edwards.

Bashley now had to push forward more but they couldn’t breach a United defence which was looking nicely solid.

United were well worthy of the win and it will be interesting to see who they get in the fourth round draw tomorrow (Monday). With determination such as this United will fancy their chances against anyone.

United: Alex Rutter, Dave Thorne, Jake Llewellyn, Mark Armstrong, Ryan Brereton, Morgan Williams, Jack Taylor, Tom Llewellyn, Harry Horton, Jacob Spence, Ross Edwards. Used subs – Cameron Gauci (Williams), Adnan Hiroli (Brereton). Unused subs – Jordan Greenwood, Sam Hedges, Marcel Lewis, Otis Lewis, Harry Durant.

Attendance: 239

Match Officials: Referee, Said Ochene; Assistant Referees, James Knowles and Dave Trevaskus.

    • UNITED are back at Fairfax Park next Saturday (December 18), to face seventh-placed Exmouth Town in the Toolstation Western League


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