West Bridgford 3 v 2 Birstall United - Report by John Burns
Drama at Regatta Way
Bridgford finally had the chance to put out a strong team with almost everyone available including 3 players making their home debut, Taylor Gardner and Ross Haig, on loan from Long Eaton, and the returning Jurgen Charlesworth, one of last season's title winning heroes.
Birstall also had one of our last season’s heroes playing for them, Aaron Large, so it was a great to see these 2 familiar faces.
When the teams took to the field of play there was no indication of the drama that was to unfold. Bridgford were fairly confident as they had never been beaten by Birstall.
Bridgford had not played a competitive match since December 23rd, and Birstall who are flying high in the league have played 2 games since then. It was a dull damp afternoon as the referee started the game.
It almost came as a shock when on 3 minutes Will Daly down the left put in a great cross to the box to be met by Taylor Gardner who put Bridgford one up. 9 Minutes later it was Gardner who put a cross into the box from the right to be met by Ross Haig who blasted it into the net to give Bridgford a 2 goal lead. The 2 home debutants were really making their mark. Birstall were stung into life and both Dan Jelley and Aaron Large had good efforts saved by Keeper Sam Clark. Tom Hall then bought down the Birstall striker in the box and up stepped Large to take the penalty which was superbly saved by the keeper Clark. Birstall kept pushing for a goal, and Large drew a foul from Willey who received a correct yellow card. On 40 minutes Bridgford scored a third, a great header by Tomi Jayeola, from another great cross by the impressive Will Daly.
Half time 3-0
The second half drama started almost immediately, when Willey received a second yellow and Bridgford were down to 10 men. This, and a no doubt good half time team talk spurred Birstall into life, and then they really started applying pressure. Clark in goal was by far the busier keeper making 2 or 3 great saves. Then Birstall won another penalty following a handball decision in the box. Once again Clark saved it, an even better save than the first penalty. The referee was giving out yellow cards like confetti, and it was no surprise when on the 80th Minute Will Heath received his second one and Bridgford were down to 9 men. Birstall threw everything at Bridgford and not surprisingly scored 2 goals in the 82nd and 88th Minute. The referee still had more cards to use and gave a straight red to a Birstall player who was in the dugout for something he said to the assistant. It was all kicking off! Then the referee played 11 minutes of added time as 2 more Bridgford players were booked for time wasting, but Bridgford literally hung on, and recorded the win.
We never expected an afternoon of 5 goals, 3 sending’s off and 2 penalty saves, and the Bridgford win just completed a great day for the club. All that was missing was a streaker or pitch invasion to complete a mad afternoon!
What a great game of football...it had everything!