Buckland Athletic 1, Bridgwater United 2
Toolstation Western league
THREE goals in the last few minutes of this end-to-end match put a more realistic take on what was a very watchable encounter at Homers Heath on Saturday, writes Kerry Miller.
With five minutes left the game looked to be undeservedly headed for the file named 0-0 draw despite both teams going for it and with the recent 4-3 scoreline at Fairfax Park fresh in the memory.
But substitutes Adnan Hiroli and Wellington Jimenez set up Jack Taylor to make the opening goal for Jake Llewellyn before Taylor clinched the points with a clinical strike of his own.
Dave Pearse and Karl Baggaley were forced into their, by now, regular juggling act with the squad missing Mike Duffy and Morgan Williams through suspension and Nick Woodrow, Ryan Brereton and Jacob Spence injured.
They welcomed back Mark Armstrong to the back four and there were three teenagers on the bench in Jimenez, Roger Ibars Blazquez and Harry Durant – all three half the age of fellow bench sitter Hiroli who had such as impact late on.
Buckland were coming off the back of a fine win at Millbrook in the week and a victory could have put them in second place behind Bitton. And with Bridgwater still apparently reeling after the events of the Ilfracombe Town game a long and hot afternoon’s toil seemed on the cards.
Within minutes Nathan Cooper, Richard Groves and Charlie Johansen combined to bring out a great last-gasp tackle from Armstrong while former Taunton Town man Ben Carter and Josh Webber were causing all kinds of grief out wide.
The back four of Armstrong, Tom Ellis, Ross Edwards, and Jordan Greenwood were often stretched but with Jake Viney behind them coped well enough.
However they had a lucky escape when the ball was given away and Carter on the half-way line who ran through only to only to mis-place an unselfish pass when he might have tucked away a one-on-one chance.
Two minutes later Carter was in again only to be denied by a fabulous stop, then George King almost rolled the ball in to an empty net past a stranded Viney, but Edwards just got back to hack it off the line.
For a while the game stuttered with too many free-kicks, and with Taylor often isolated up front United’s chances were scarce.
That was until man-of-the-match Archie Sturdy was given the ball and he strode into the area but was denied twice by Andy Collings. Bridgwater were just beginning to believe in themselves and on the half hour Jake Llewellyn motored down the left and his cross was met by Taylor’s side foot effort which Collings again kept out.
Just before the break George King set up Taylor but Collings parried for Sturdy to just fail to net the rebound and the sides went in at 0-0 with both wondering how.
Tom Llewellyn, Harry Horton, and Sturdy were often outnumbered in the midfield despite the presence wide left of Jake Llewellyn who was always dangerous on the counter, but they all battled well and ultimately gained full reward despite tough going after the break.
King drove over following a corner and Horton did likewise and a goal looked on the cards at either end with Taylor having an effort deflected wide and Webber bringing another fine save out of Viney.
King was beginning to enjoy himself and threaded an inch-perfect pass to Sturdy, but he could not convert before Buckland showed they were beginning to feel the pressure as Carter and Owen Price were both cautioned alongside Jordan Greenwood.
A defensive error let in Groves for what should have been the opener, but his shot rattled the side netting which prompted Pearse to change things around and it brought dividends.
Adnan Hiroli replaced King and Jimenez came on for Sturdy ten minutes later and both played major roles in bringing the three points back to Somerset. Ross Edwards had meanwhile pulled off a smart defensive header from a Tor Swann cross then at the other end Tom Llewellyn had scooted along the byline for Hiroli to see his shot blocked for a corner.
With both teams going for the win, it was United who finally broke the deadlock when Jimenez’s superb pass to Hiroli was squared to Taylor and his strike brought a penalty decision from referee Ashley Harris for handball.
Jake Llewellyn slammed in the spot kick and with Sam Reed introduced in injury time to manage the game Taylor smashed in the second to all but seal a gritty victory.
Unsurprisingly, there was a late sting in the tail and Groves scored from close range but there was hardly time to kick off and the points were in the bag.
Jake Viney, Ross Edwards, Jake Llewellyn, Mark Armstrong, Jordan Greenwood, Tom Ellis, Archie Sturdy, (Wellington Jimenez 80), Harry Horton, (Sam Reed 89), Jack Taylor, George King, (Adnan Hiroli 70), Tom Llewellyn. Subs Unused: Harry Durant and Roger Blazquez.
Andy Collings, Frazer Clark, Owen Price, Owen Stockton, Rob Farkins, Nick Milton Jr, Ben Carter, Nathan Cooper, Charlie Johansen, Richard Groves, Josh Webber. Subs: Ryan Bush, Cieron Bridger, Tor Swann, Danny Gaze.
Goals: Buckland Athletic: Richard Groves 90+5. Bridgwater United: Jake Llewellyn 89, Jack Taylor 90+3
This Saturday United travel to the Everyone Active Stadium to face Clevedon Town (3pm).