Aylestone Park 2-2 West Bridgford
Battling Bridgford Give Aylestone Park The Blues
Report Written by West Bridgford's John Burns
In their all blue away kit a gritty and dogged performance by West Bridgford saw them leave Leicestershire with a well earned point at title rivals Aylestone Park. Yet again Bridgford were forced to make changes - Experienced keeper Martin Kearney and full back Ross McCaughey were both injured, Aaron Large and David Erentz were also unavailable.
The game started on a lovely playing surface and as early as the 2nd minute Aylestone Park made their intentions clear when Abou Sylla was clattered down in the away sides first attack - bizarrely no yellow card shown.
The home side had started the game much brighter and in the 4th minute West Bridgford keeper Sam Clark made a quite magnificent double save denying the home side the lead, it was a save which Kryptons Clark Kent would have been proud of - unfortunately the keeper then had a spell where he performed more like Petula Clark - a 5th minute Jack Jepson cross was half cleared by Patrick Newsome only for a tame Ryan Foster shot to go underneath the goalkeepers body, a moment he will want to forget in a hurry. 1-0 (Aylestone Park)
Bridgford responded like league leaders should and what a stunning individual effort it was - in the 21st minute a long ball forward by Bridgford full back Jonathan Ventrella was clipped over a static home defence for the in-form Tim Hopkinson, after an immaculate first touch and in one swiveled movement the striker brought the ball out of the sky and lifted the ball over the Aylestone Park keeper - a moment of pure class. 1-1 (Bridgford)
Two minutes later the former Forest star was at it again - Tom Coole played a slick pass into Hopkinson's feet who opened his body and bent the ball into the top far corner, another sensational strike which came out of absolutely nowhere. 2-1 (Bridgford),
A shell shocked Aylestone reacted well and after 28 minutes they equalised - a free kick on the right hand side caused a scramble in the Bridgford box and young winger Jack Jepson toe-pocked a shot past the stranded Clark who'd earlier misjudged the cross. 2-2 (Aylestone Park).
It was scintillating first half which left the spectators with plenty to talk about..
The second half saw both teams battle for supremacy, Bridgford introduced experienced midfielder Will Heath for Sean Green at half time.
After more home pressure Aylestone should have taken the lead in the 57th minute - the lively Jack Jepson showed great individual skill before cutting the ball back from the byline to Sam Carline who fired way over. In the 63rd minute Jepson himself then had a goal bound shot deflected for a corner. Bridgford keeper Sam Clark dropped the resulting corner kick but Kieran Neats goal bound effort was cleared off the line by Kevin Spriggs.
Both teams used all their substitutions in an effort to secure a win but it wasn't to be - Bridgford substitute Carl Westcarr having a golden opportunity in the final minute to score but chose to pass when he could have pulled the trigger.
Man Of the Match: Tim Hopkinson
Joint Manager Stuart Robinson reflected at the final whistle 'From start to finish I thought it was a superb contest particularly the first half, Aylestone were as good as anything we've faced this year and are serious title contenders. The first twenty minutes we were caught cold, their front three were very good, the two moments of brilliance from Tim got us back in the game though - second half we looked much more solid and battled hard for a point'.