Harsh red card mars Three Bridges' FA Trophy exit

Three Bridges went to market - but couldn't buy an FA Trophy win.

Three Bridges MoM Kieron Thorp
Three Bridges MoM Kieron Thorp

They lost 4-1 at Needham Market in the third qualifying round, ending their hopes of further knockout success and prize money.

A long trip to Suffolk ended with Bridges’ interest in theTrophy over for another season, but they left with a few grievances despite the better team winning.

It probably would have made little difference to the result overall, but the dismissal of Dean Lovegrove for handball on the line was regarded by supporters of both clubs as harsh - with Lovegrove himself convinced that the ball had hit his chest.

Needham gave early notice of their intent with Ben Fowkes shooting just wide of the near post, but Bridges responded with a brilliant cross-field ball by debutant Joseph Kay that led to Alex Barbary seeing his shot saved. But Kieran Thorp was the busier of the two keepers with excellent blocks to deny Fowkes and Noah Collard whilst a long range effort from Adam Mills was cleared off the line.

Harry Docherty did well to turn and get in a shot that was blocked, but it was hardly a surprise when Needham took a 33rd minute lead. Thorp did well to parry a drive from Byron Lawrence but Fowkes took advantage of being alone to snap up the loose ball.

Five minutes later Bridges lost possession far too easily and Collard punished them, and a minute later Thorp made a great block to deny the dangerous speedy Callum Page.

Bridges could hardly have made a worse start to the second half. Joseph Marsden had already seen one effort deflected wide but when a low cross came in, he had the final touch for Needham’s third goal.

But then Bridges had a purple patch for about twenty minutes. Substitute Jordan Wilson almost made an instant impact with a low cross that was met by Barbary. His initial shot was well blocked by Marcus Garnham, who also did magnificently to block Tom Tolfrey’s follow up. But Needham were starting to argue amongst themselves and they conceded after 56 minutes, the ball falling invitingly for Tolfrey to fire home.

Barbary and Wilson continued to harass the home defence, but the award of the penalty after 73 minutes led to fierce protests and Lovegrove’s controversial dismissal before Marsden converted from the spot.

The game petered out a bit after that, although in added time Curtis Gayler hit the post before the ball rebounded into Garnham’s safe arms, tribute to the visitors for continuing to strive despite feeling that they rarely had the rub of the green.

Bridges Man of the Match – Kieron Thorp.