BRIDPORT’S 5-1 reverse at the hands of Willand Rovers last night hinged on a five-minute spell either side of half time that led to the Bees tasting defeat for the first time this season writes Stuart Broom.
Bridport 1 Willand Rovers 5
Toolstation Western League Premier Division – att; 133
UNTIL then both sides had cancelled each other out in what was a drab affair with just three efforts on goal; a long range shot from Rovers’ captain Brett Worbey that cleared the bar, a similar effort from the corner of the penalty area from Ed Butcher, and Kameron Andrews’ glancing header that went wide.
Then on 42 minutes, with the advantage of the strong breeze behind him, Rovers’ keeper Mike Searle launched a long kick reaching the Bees penalty box. Both Ryan Hayer and Alan Hill went for the clearance which was nodded into the path of the unmarked James Blake who picked his spot from 12 yards.
This instigated a series of frenzied attacks by the visitors, who went for Bridport’s jugular.
Glen Gould fired just wide and Jason Hutchings was forced to save down at post from Brad Ausden. The impressive Josh Searle then fired just wide from 25 yards before Luke Alden picked the ball up on the halfway line and ran unopposed to crash a 20 harder past Hutchings two minutes into added time to give Willand a slightly flattering two goal interval lead.
The Bees, who were missing five regulars, went close to reducing the deficit at the start of the second half but were denied by a magnificent save from Searle two minutes after the break. Martin’s 35-yard exocet free kick looked destined for the net particularly as it took a deflection off a shoulder, but Searle reacted superbly to turn it away for a corner.
A goal then could have turned the game back Bridport’s way, but Willand immediately went on the attack and Hutchings was forced into a brilliant double save; turning away Blake’s header before parrying Adam Hill’s close range follow up.
Bridport appealed for a penalty when Richard Hebditch, the one shining light in the Bees ranks, was brought to ground as he cut in from the right, before Rovers sealed the game with a third on 53 minutes; Ausden being put through the middle to run on and beat the advancing Hutchings.
Hebditch gave the Bees a glimmer of hope of a turnaround on 70 minutes with a delightful goal. Mark Salter cut inside from the left before laying off to the former Beaminster player who squeezED a low curling shot that clipped the upright on its way into the net.
The game swayed back and forth as both sides looked to consolidate their position, but it was the visitors that won the battle; sub Luke Mortimore taking the ball on his chest and weaving past two defenders before slipping it past Hutchings.
Two minutes from time Alden struck again when he was allowed to run forward and thump a shot past the bewildered Hutchings to complete the rout.
Bridport manager Adam Fricker admitted his side weren’t at the races: “We knew it would be tough with six missing and Braeden [Symes] played for 55 minutes with a sickness bug, but we still had a half decent side out there. It’s the manner of the defeat that is disappointing; we got what we deserved; nothing!
“Hopefully we will get a few of those missing back for Street on Saturday and we have just got to dust ourselves down and move on.”
Bridport: Jason Hutchings, Alan Hill, Hayter, Cam Vere, Andy Martin (Sam Handyside 65), Kameron Andrews, Braeden Symes (Matt Condliffe 50), Andy Butler (Josh Hull 83), Mark Salter Rich Hebitch, Ed Butcher.