As December hurtles towards us all at a rapid rate, there were no signs of Christmas cheer from Bridgnorth’s opponent’s over the weekend as the Blues came back to Cricket Meadow with a very mixed bag of results.
Looking to bounce back from their late goal drama last week, the Men’s 1sts made the lengthy journey to Northampton in the hope of a morale boosting victory on a cold November day. However, a depleted and injury strewn side failed to register the 3 points they desired. Bridgnorth started slowly, unable to find any cohesion in the midfield and forward lines and were soon to be trailing 1-0. Defensive errors were to blame as missed tackles and poor marking allowed a Northampton forward to finish unchallenged past the helpless Ben Taylor. Bridgnorth battled but could not find a way to keep possession or exert any pressure other than hopeful counter attack’s and were soon to be 2-0 down. Again, sloppy marking allowed a Northampton forward to finish at the back post leaving the Cricket Meadow men with an uphill battle on their hands in the second period. Bridgnorth started the second half the stronger of the two sides as they began to pose a greater threat going forward. However, Ben Taylor had to be alert in the away sides goal as gaps were left as Bridgnorth looked to get back into the game. A string of excellent saves kept the visitors just about in the contest and they were soon to be right back in the game. A quickly taken long corner was hammered into the D by Matt Martin where James Speke was on hand to expertly deflect into the net to give the away side real hope which they’re second hand efforts deserved. With ten minutes to play, a penalty corner was hammered home by Saints to stretch their lead who quickly made it 4 as Bridgnorth piled forward. It was to be Speke who would have the final say as he scored his fifth goal in two games as he rifled a short corner into the roof at the full time whistle.
No such problem was had by the Men’s 2nds, as they looked to build on their string of excellent results with the visit of Worcester to the Leisure Centre. The Blues started strongly, taking the advantage through Rob Foster’s deflection from a Matt Ealey pass and Ealey once again turned provider as Ian Gregory slotted home a second. The home side extended their lead as Max Evenett’s precise finish found its way past the stranded visiting goalkeeper. One huge positive in the past few weeks has been the unity of the defence and after waves of Worcester pressure, they held firm. Unfortunately, the defence was breached created by some fine interchanges which tore apart the Bridgnorth defence. In previous weeks, this would have been the start cracks appearing, however Bridgnorth’s spirit and determination meant they drove on to restore their lead once more, doing so straight after the restart with Matt Ealey dancing past 8 players and slotting home to score what could well be goal of the season. Shocked and confused, Worcester began their descent and after conceding a fourth, it was game over. This win elevates the 2nds out of the drop zone and in to relative mid-table comfort, for now.
Having lost ground on top of the league Bournville in previous week, the Men’s 3rds were looking to pick up all three points against bottom-of-the-league Telford and Wrekin. However, this affair was not pretty or straightforward. The pointless side went out with a point to prove and soon began to assert their dominance. Maybe it was the winter’s chill, perhaps the twelve o’clock start but the Blues did not come out of the blocks and this allowed the pointless Telford side to grow into the game. Then, the worst possible scenario. Ex-Bridgnorth forward Tom Williams found himself unmarked in the circle and duly obliged in getting one over on his former club with a goal which made the Blues sit up and take notice. Despite the constant hammering at the Telford door, there was little opportunity to equalise until Steve Parnham stepped up from a penalty corner with minutes just before the final whistle to salvage a draw from the jaws of defeat. Telford will feel they should have had more out of the game, while the Blues are counting their lucky stars.
It was the late game of the day which nearly had a shock result, as Bridgnorth Men’s 4ths entertained North Stafford at home. They, like the Men’s 3rds, paid for shoddy defending as the visitors took the lead after a defensive error. Bridgnorth battled hard and after some well worked interchanges, they eventually equalised through returning defender Tom Cresswell. This incentive allowed the Blues to push further on and caught the North Stafford defence high, stranding the hapless goalkeeper, allowing Sam Baugh to claim his 13th of the season. After the break, Cresswell bagged his second while Connor Bennett grabbed his 4th in 4 games. The Blues, after the early scare held firm and once again asserted their dominance at the top of the league.
The Men’s 5ths made the long journey to Lichfield in search of another away day victory. They were off to the perfect start as captain Stuart Ward gave the away side the lead before Rob Tait and Charles Thomas got in on the action. Ward rounded off another sterling performance by adding a further goal, keeping the home side to just a handful of chances. A comprehensive 4-0 victory over a side who are often so dominant at home will give them a great confidence boost for the coming weeks.
With a walkover in the previous week, the Men’s 6ths looked to get back in action with an away trip to Cannock. After having scraped a narrow victory in the previous week against Bridgnorth 5ths, Cannock looked to claim home advantage. They did get off to the perfect start as they took an expected lead in a hard fought, fierce contest. Their cause was further extended as Bridgnorth’s Kevin Thomas was shown a yellow card. Despite this, the Blue’s hit back and Thomas – just minutes after returning to the field – hammered the ball home to give the visitors a deserving draw.
Both the Men’s 7ths and Ladies 2nds were due to be in action today but due to poor weather, both fixtures were postponed.
The Ladies 1sts were in action though and they looked to overcome a Wem and Market Drayton side which sat fourth in the table. Bridgnorth started brightly and after some dominant play, found themselves in front thanks to the quick reactions of captain Kate Everitt-Smith who found the ball loose in the circle and passed it beyond the goalkeeper. The Blues made sure they asserted their dominance and continued to press from the back, building strongly through Kate Bailey, Hannah Robinson and Jess Dwane. The speed of the Bridgnorth attack, spearheaded by Mel Hill and Meg Birt posed persistent problems for Wem, as they couldn’t find the answers to stop their constant onslaught. In between the waves of attack, Louise Walker grabbed her hat-trick, Kate Everitt-Smith took her tally to four goals for the game, midfielder Jess Griffiths and Jasmine Spooner helped themselves to a goal a-piece, while the thorns in the side: Mel Hill and Meg Birt took two goals each, making the tally 13. The home side didn’t have it all their own way however, as Wem broke twice resulting in two quick goals but this was just a small blot on an otherwise perfect copybook.
This week sees the Men’s 1sts entertain Barford Tigers (1.30pm), while the Men’s 2nds travel away local rivals Stourport. Hoping to regain confidence and chase down the league leaders with a journey to Finchfield, while the 4ths travel down the Toll to Sutton Coldfield. The 12pm home game sees Finchfield 4ths come to the Leisure Centre to play against the Men’s 5ths, while at 3.00pm, the Men’s 6ths host Lichfield 5ths. The Men’s 7ths will be hoping for a game this week as they travel to Ludlow. Meanwhile, the Ladies 1sts travel to Wem and Market Drayton 2nds and the Ladies 2nds have the short trip to local rivals Telford and Wrekin 2nds.