West Bridgford 3-2 Anstey Nomads
Isaac's debut dismissal shows 10 men Bridgford's true grit.
Match Reporter: John Burns
West Bridgford gave a starting debut to new signing Isaac Minott but were without defensive rock Patrick Newsome and keeper Martin Kearney who was again unavailable through a shoulder injury.
The away side started comfortably following their recent improvement however in the 4th minute and after clever footwork from Bridgford's debutant Minott he then blazed over from 12 yards for the home side, at the other end Anstey were dangerous as Ash Day cut in from the left and drilled a shot against the post for a Bridgford let off.
In the 8th minute the visitors took a thoroughly deserved lead when Mark Foster opened his account with a superbly taken finish. 0-1 (Anstey)
Bridgford did react well though and on the 20th minute following good work between Tim Hopkinson and Isaac Minott the latter tapped home from 8 yards for his first goal for the club. 1-1 (Bridgford)
A minute later the game dramatically changed though when an exuberant and keen to impress Minott was instantly red carded for a terrible tackle worthy of a WWE show - Zach Harris the Anstey recipient, it wasn't one for the faint hearted. The home side were subsequently reduced to ten men without any complaints and now faced a mammoth task of getting anything from the game.
Bridgford regrouped as they always do - a Jurgen Charlesworth cross was headed home by Large only for the referee assistant to disallow for offside.
Despite their numerical disadvantage Bridgford began to dominate with the returning Will Heath at the heart of things with some thunderous tackles.
On the 30th minute though the reds were caught napping when Anstey quickly broke away, swept through the Bridgford defence allowing Mark Foster to slam home Anstey's and his second of the game. 1-2 (Anstey)
HT 1-2 (Anstey)
The 'true grit' and 'togetherness' the management and players have created showed from the start of the second half and emphasised exactly why they are top of the East Midland Counties League - after sustained pressure it came as no surprise that in the 47th minute the in-form Charlesworth equalised with a brilliant finish following a Will Heath diagonal cross field pass, it was his 6th goal in his last 3 games. 2-2 (Bridgford)
On 64 minutes the home side then went in front when a vicious Heath free kick was headed home by the outstanding Tim Hopkinson. 3-2 (Bridgford)
Both sides made substitutions with the Bridgford effort taking it out of their legs.
On the 76th minute Anstey had an excellent chance to level, skipper Dan Taylor cut through the Bridgford defence only to see his effort rebound off the cross-bar.
Despite leading 3-2 the home side went searching for further goals with Charlesworth and Hopkinson twice having efforts saved.
Bridgford held out until the final whistle with every player contributing towards a quite magnificent win and three precious points on a day when teams around them at the top dropped points.
The reds are now six points clear at the top with 7 games remaining ahead of the visit to second placed Birstall United who they meet next week in what looks a mouth-watering contest.
Man Of The Match: Will Heath
Joint Manager Chris Marks was delighted after the game, 'it was a monumental effort to play the game with ten men for 70 minutes and come away with three points, we changed the shape at half time and went for it, it paid off and it was all down to the togetherness of the players'.