Blidworth travelled to West Bridgford for our first venture into the Mini Shield. With the exception of the ill Tom Bower
and long term injured Lewis Bramley and Josh Bye for the first time in a while Blidworth had a full squad to choose from. Reverting to a 4-4-2, Bretnall and Briggs up front, Iliffe (right) Shaw (left), Shelton and Brown in centre midfield, and a back four of Heathcote (left), Whittburn (right), Spencer and Allen in the centre. On the bench Wilkinson, Rhodes and Bamford.
In the opening couple of minutes Merryweather had a good feel of the ball catching a Bridgford free kick under the cross bar. Blidworth’s first effort from Shelton came on 5 mins as he blazed over from fully thirty yards. Much of the opening ten minutes was well contested as both teams sought to take control. Blidworth’s first real spell of football involved Shaw, Iliffe, Bretnall and Brown, the final through ball from Brown to Iliffe but the Bridgford keeper Coleman closed down well at Iliffe’s feet. Blidworth again poured forward Shaw picked the ball up, ran at the Bridgford defence at pace his shot was blocked but fell to Bretnall who hooked the follow up over the bar.
Coleman in the Bridgford goal pulled off the first real save of the game in the 19th minute. Brown’s long looping header forward was controlled instantly by Bretnall, the Blidworth forward turned and hooked a shot goalwards for Coleman to save awkwardly from his top corner. A minute later Blidworth were in front, an excellent tackle by Shelton in midfield saw him take back possession and play an exquisite through ball to Bretnall who rounded the keeper kept his feet as Coleman tapped his legs and placed the ball home from an acute angle and 1-0 Blidworth. Shelton who was becoming a real thorn in Bridgford’s side with his direct all action style earned a free kick on 23 mins which Brown fired well over from 25 yards out.
Blidworth were now controlling the game and restricting Bridgford from excerpting any pressure going forward. It was no surprise when they made it 2-0 in the 31st minute Iliffe when found with a raking pass from Allen earned a corner with his persistence, he took it himself and Spencer rose to head home and double the lead. It was no surprise when Bridgford picked up the first booking of the game for yet another rash tackle on Shelton in the 35th minute. However it was Shelton who conceded the free kick which gave Bridgford a foothold back in the game on 38 mins. From just inside the Blidworth half the ball was played straight down the middle into the box Spencer challenged the ball evaded him, Merryweather was drawn to one side of his goal and a Bridgford player headed it in the other side and 2-1. This spurred Bridgford on and two minutes later the score was 2-2 after Blidworth conceded possession in the middle of the park Bridgford broke down there left with an excellent through ball Merryweather raced out the striker knocked the ball past him for it to be tapped in at the far post. Heads didn’t drop and Blidworth won a throw in right near the corner flag in first half stoppage time, Whittburn produced his trade mark long throw which seemed to shock the Bridgford defence and Shaw volleyed home and 3-2 Blidworth at half time.
Blidworth replaced Briggs with Rhodes at half time for a more physical presence up front. Within a minute of the restart Merryweather’s long drop kick evaded the Bridgford defence Rhodes knocked on to Bretnall who shot narrowly wide. Bridgford themselves benefitted from the uneven bounce in the 49th minute when Spencer misread a through ball, Sowter raced forward shot past Merryweather only to see the ball also run wide of the post. Bridgford made two subs on 55 minutes which altered their shape, Blidworth countered replacing Whittburn with Wilkinson on 56 minutes.
Blidworth then had a 20 minute spell when the lead should have been increased. Shaw played a fine ball down the left touchline Rhodes collected and unleashed a rasping shot which the keeper pushed out for a corner. From the corner Spencer headed wide. Bamford replaced Brown in the 66th minute. A minute later Rhodes combined well with Iliffe to create a chance for Bretnall, Coleman again saved well. Bamford who slotted in well alongside Shelton played a lovely ball across to Shaw whose shot narrowly slid by the right post. Two further chances to Blidworth, Bretnall shooting over the bar and Bamford wide of the post. In the 87th minute Wilkinson found Iliffe whose low drilled cross hit Bretnall only again to see the ball fly over the cross bar.
Bridgford resorted to a long ball game and for the last five minutes Blidworth had to soak up some constant pressure. In the 90th minute Bridgford pumped in another free kick the ball bounced around and was hooked onto the cross bar, Spencer clearing the rebound.
All in all an excellent comeback game for Blidworth capped off with some outstanding performances all round. Hopefully Blidworth can build on this win and finish off the season well.
Final Score: West Bridgford Colts FC 2-3 Blidworth Welfare FC
Scorers: Josh Bretnall
(20) Peter Spencer (31) Lee Shaw (45 + 1)
Man of the Match: Chris Shelton