Hard work by Ron Moulding and his busy groundsmen team ensured play after sheeting much of the pitch to combat heavy overnight frost, and the bumper crowd saw YM make the early running with two corners, culminating in Tom Tolfrey shooting straight to keeper Mitch Bromage. Bridges, though, came into the game and just before the mid point of the first half Noel Leighton broke through on a solo run and, with the advancing Aaron Jeal hopelessly exposed, struck the ball past him into the empty net. Jeal subsequently punched clear twice, for Bridges to lead by the only goal at half time.
The second half began with YM defence being opened up for a corner, but they soon equalised when Dean Lovegrove burst through to fire in the fabulous goal of the match, the clean strike contending for the goal of the season. Curtis Gayler, Ben Bacon and Dan Perry were all off target for Bridges, as was sub Oli Lawal for YM, but Bridges regained the lead on the hour mark, when Gayler made amends. 3 Bridges’ corners followed in quick succession, yet, while YM remained competitive, their defence was being tested, with Jeal having to rush out to head clear.
Then, two minutes into added time, a miss-kick allowed Perry to head home Bridges’ third from close range. Lovegrove hit a very late free kick just wide, but, while 3-1 was a somewhat flattering scoreline, Bridges deserved their win, YM Coach Lee Maguire telling the County Times: “We did well to qualify for the Quarter Final, and up against a team from a senior league we have a lot to take from that – we’re playing well together now, and can be proud of that performance.”
On Saturday YM head for the coast for league action against 5th in the table Pagham.
- YM report by Martin Read
BROADBRIDGE HEATH 3-2 EAST PRESTON
With relegation threatened East Preston losing 12-1 in a midweek league fixture, most Heath supporters were expecting the Bears to grab a few themselves but how wrong they were as the visitors took a 2-0 lead after 17 minutes play.
Heath manager Chris Simmons was without his usual central defensive partnership of Kyle Sim injured and Mark Zydonik unavailable also with both Connor Baston & Jack Frankland out injured but that gave opportunities for others to claim a place in the starting lineup.
Heath started well with Zac Young, Mason Doughty and Charlie Gibson all having shots from outside the box but failing to test the East Preston keeper but on 14 minutes it was the visitors who took the lead when the ball was won off a defender wide on the left, crossed into the box where it was hit first time by Matthew Storm with a looping left foot shot over Liam Matthews into the goal.
Heath responded well with Louis Blake going close with another effort from just outside the box but on their next purposeful attack on 17 minutes the visitors doubled their lead. A free kick was awarded just inside the Heath half, the ball was pumped high into the penalty where the East Preston centre-half rose high to head it goal wards, Sean Terry tried to clear it off the line but Storm pounced to ensure it crossed scoring his second of the match.
Heath continued to press forward, Doughty broke through the defence but pulled his shot wide of goal from 8 yards, Jamie Taylor had his goal bound effort pushed wide of the post and Doughty again went close with a shot inches wide of target but Heaths luck finally changed 3 minutes before the break. Doughty cut in from the right and had his shot blocked by a defender the ball flew up in the air straight to Taylor at the far post who headed home from a yard out.
The second period continued in a similar fashion, Heath pushed forward in search of the equaliser, good crosses coming in from both flanks, chances created but that final finish was missing, that was until the 85th minute when Renato Carvalho played a ball down the right flank to Sean Terry who took the ball to the goal-line before playing across the face of goal to Lewis Croal at the far post who converted from a yard, 2-2 with 5 minutes remaining.
Heath continued to press, the East Preston goalkeeper making an unbelievable triple save to deny The Bears the winner but just as it looked likely to end as a draw Charlie Weller’s inch perfect pass int the penalty area allowed Taylor to run through and hit the ball with the outside of his right boot across the goal into the far corner.
Hard on the visitors who worked tirelessly throughout the game only to be denied a point in the 6th minute of added time, a great escape of The Bears who with that victory move up to 4th place, unchartered territory for Simmo’s team who are having their best ever season in the division.
Simmo said afterwards: "The first half was by far the worse we have played all season, our passing, decision making and work rate were all miles away from the standards we have set this season, that being said I am not taking anything away from East Preston who on the day were excellent, they worked tirelessly and were clinical with the few chances they had. Again the plus points are how good the whole squad is this season and the attitude and fight of every player, they just don’t give up, the subs were great and were instrumental in getting the 3 points."
MOM was Charlie Weller, who played in three positions on the day and was excellent in all of them. Next up for Heath is a very difficult match at home to division leaders Littlehampton Town on Saturday 22nd January at 3.00pm.
Heath: Matthews, Young (Carvalho), Gibson, Weller, Waddingham, Terry, Jones (Watts 73), Blake, Doughty (Croal 68), Taylor, Parmiter.
B Heath report submitted by club