Groundhop 2017

Ashton & Backwell United 2 - 1 Bishop Sutton
First Division

Friday 6th October 2017

The weekend Ground hop kicked off with a competitive game between two close rivals at a chilly Lancer Scott Stadium. The only blot on an otherwise splendid evening was Bishop Sutton turning out in yellow shirts with shiny white numbers, which made indentification of players for the neutral, which of course there were many, almost impossible under the floodlights writes Paul Davis.

The game began at a good pace and with skipper Sam Thomas prominent in midfield , United took the game to their visitors. The impressive Connor Biggins fashioned the first chance after six minutes but Sutton responded when a free-kick from their own half forced United keeper Lewis Coombes to chase out of his area to head away and it took an alert Aaron Reid with a follow up header to complete the clearance.

United responded with Sam McCormack making some dangerous runs out wide and on 20 minutes he was felled by Ken Long who received a yellow card and within a minute a similar run ended with another foul and another yellow card.

Sutton’s best chance of the half came just after when the lively Mason Dagger robbed Harry Walker and as the ball broke loose John Keen put a great chance wide.

United found the back of the net when the ball broke loose to the combative Sam Skidmore In the box and he made no mistake with a powerful left foot shot past the diving Josh Yakub in the Sutton goal.

Half Time: Ashton & Backwell United 1 - 0 Bishop Sutton

The second half started in the same way with McCormack again prominent and one great run ended up with him cutting inside only to see his shot pushed out by Yakub leading to a frenetic penalty area scramble which eventually came to nothing.

United were not having it all their own way and a Sutton break by Sam Douglas brought a brave save by Coombes at the feet of Dagger, but no Sutton player was able to get to the loose ball and the danger was cleared.

Just before the hour United went further ahead when Walker’s inviting cross from the left was met perfectly by Skidmore who made no mistake with a powerful header, again giving Yakub no chance.

Sutton responded well to this setback and Ryan Crouch was forced to give away a free-kick which earned him a yellow card and which Nathan Rendall blasted over from distance. Then a good break by Josh Keen led to a cross by Sam Roberts with Coombes saving at Dagger’s feet again and after swapping Sam Glasson for Sam Douglas two Sutton headers from half chances failed to hit the target.

The game went from end to end but clear cut chances were rare. Both sides made changes in an effort to find a way through including Sutto n player-manager Dave Stone bringing himself on for the last 20 minutes and it worked as Sutton got themselves on the score sheet. United conceded a cheap corner which fell to Nathan Rendall who scored with a neat shot out of the reach of Coombes after 73 minutes.

Whether this was a consolation or a comeback was given added spice with ten minutes left when a Sutton foul in front of the benches led to a bemused Thomas receiving a second yellow card in the aftermath.

Sutton began to dominate against the ten men, but as they had done all night United continued to chase and harry all over the pitch which largely restricted Sutton to half chances. Deep into added time Combes proved to be the hero for United as he made one last excellent save to prevent Dagger inflicting a fatal blow.

This was a hard fought competitive encounter but United deserved their victory for their battling performance by the whole team, but epitomized by Connor Biggins and a traditional old fashioned centre forward in Sam Skidmore who ended up with a yellow card and two excellent goals.

Congratulations went to all at Ashton and Backwell for their organisation and hospitality for the bumper crowd of225 which kicked off the seven match Western League weekend.

Welton Rovers 3 - 1 Keynsham Town
First Division

Saturday 7th October 2017

Just an inch or so made all the difference to the outcome of Saturday morning’s excellent Ground Hop second day opener at West Clewes writes Kerry Miller.

With the score at 2-1 to the home side, visiting substitute Adey Harvey rattled the Welton crossbar at the car park end and watched the ball fall to safety then could do nothing as Chris Pile’s pace took him clear and he cut in from the left to hammer the clincher past Matt Dunk just moments later.

It was cruel on Keynsham Town who played their part in an excellent game in front of a crowd of 247 but who remain sixth, just two points ahead of improving Rovers. Town were ahead inside three minutes as Matt Curnock ran through the centre of the defence before burying the chance past Tom Drewett but Welton hit back when Shak Green fed Francois Allen but his effort was kept out by Dunk. Both sides looked good going forward and with Matt Brown up front Keynsham always looked likely, however just short of the half hour Welton struck back. The impressive Pile’s in-swinging corner reached Tom Smith and his diving header gave Dunk no chance to make it 1-1 as the constant mizzle gradually soaked West Clewes and the many stood around the barriers.

In the next attack referee Kevin Lewis’s good advantage allowed Allen to again test Dunk and the striker went close when an effort was just scrambled off the line as Town began to creak under the home onslaught. Four minutes from the break Welton took a deserved lead when Pile cut in and his cross found the top corner, the goal later claimed by Green who got a glancing touch.

Allen then was forced to limp off to be replaced by Malick Jammeh but he was not involved as Drewett launched a huge drop kick which the back pedalling Jason Adams could only head on to the roof of the net for a corner which ended the half.

From the restart Keynsham attacked and Kyle Box saw his shot pushed away by Drewett then Brown and Adams went close seconds apart as the action continued unabated. Rovers’ Joe Battrick had a header cleared off the line and Brown went up the other end and was denied by a fine Drewett stop but Keynsham were looking likely to get something from the game when Cam Shorney was again stopped on the line.

Late on Welton substitute Jaiden Savery cut in and his shot was parried out and it looked for one second as though that could be costly when Harvey lined up his curling shot with minutes left, but it clattered the bar before Pile struck to complete a fine performance with his goal two minutes from time to confirm the points would stay at West Clewes.

Radstock Town 1 - 0 Oldland Abbotonians
First Division

Saturday 7th October 2017

A comical own goal 19 minutes into the game was enough to settle the outcome and send the Miners up to third in the table, a point behind Devizes Town but with a game in hand writes Kerry Miller.

It was just about the right result for a match which occasionally threatened to break into a sweat but never quite did although it is often said that winning while not playing well is a recipe for success.

The morning’s damp and drizzle was slowly giving way to brightening skies as Abbotonians almost took advantage of a defensive error but Courtney Charles was crowded out then Josh Southway’s drive was deflected for a corner. Town responded with Matt Minnis and Jack Biddescombe linking but again they had to be content with a corner which came to nothing. Jordan Greenwood picked up a booking from referee Brian Lee before he put Oliver Trevarthen in but his lob was wide and this proved costly as Oldland gifted Radstock the lead. Minnis wriggled away along the byline and his cross went goalwards off the unfortunate Scott Gregory who could only help it into the roof of the net. Oldland then replied with a fine effort from Trevarthen which was just wide midway through the half but Radstock were looking the more dangerous and Biddescombe was seeing plenty of the ball and c ausing problems. Oldland had the final say of the half when Charles saw his effort saved by the foot of Glen Murley in the home goal.

In truth the second half never really sparked into life in front of the crowd of 213, Trevarthen again wide before Minnis’s pace took him clear only for Chris Manns to pull off a fine save. Luke Lecrass curled a shot wide of the post for Oldland and the lively Minnis beat the offside line but was kept out by Manns but Radstock had done enough and now prepare for their Somerset Premier Cup tie at Bishops Lydeard on Wednesday night.

Odd Down (Bath) 2 - 2 Bitton
Premier Division

Saturday 7th October 2017

This Bristol v Bath derby brought four goals, two red cards and around eight yellow ones as the two sides played out a blood and thunder old fashioned Western League clash which was never boring, alost always exciting but just occasionally overstepped the mark, writes Kerry Miller.

In the end the sides earned a point each and walked off with handshakes all round and remain in mid table with Bitton’s ever-changing side still struggling for momentum while Odd Down have now gone six games without a win. What was the fourth game of the Ground Hop weekend simmered all afternoon and the 211 strong crowd could not waver their concentration on the events which started inside 20 seconds as Asa White shot wide for the home side. Bitton went close next as a corner was palmed away by Ed Baldy but Harvey Baker could only head the rebound into his arms then Tom Knighton almost converted Joe McLellan’s cross but it was saved for a corner.

Bitton continued to have the best of the chances with Reeko Best wide and McLellan denied by Baldy until the game broke up with Odd Down’s Matt Durbin booked for what looked like an elbow on Dean Griffiths and Bitton’s Kyle Tooze following soon after. Knighton and Caelen Simpson went close at either end before Odd Down took the lead when Kye Simpson nodded down for brother Kane to score on the half hour.

It went bad for the home side as Dave Gould, who was only recently back from suspension, was shown a straight red for a foul in midfield leaving his side to play almost an hour with ten men.

Knighton tested Baldy who saved well then Kye Simpson shot wide for the home side when clear and free and when Durbin was robbed by Ben Wych, he should have done better with the last chance of the half.

Within seconds of the restart Luke Hall-Cousins all but levelled but was denied by a fabulous stop from John but after Baker shot straight at Baldy the game changed once again. Tooze got into the home area and clashed with a defender but referee Brian Channing deemed his fall as being a dive and Tooze was shown a second yellow and he joined Gould in the changing rooms on the hour.

It set the game up for a tense last third with the crowd unsure where the game would go with the extra space and Griffiths’ pace saw him hit a drive which was deflected away then Kye Simpson squared to brother Kane but his blast over was costly. Wych was next in the book for Bitton but they were level when Knighton turned with his back to goal and hit a stunning angled drive past Baldy with 20 minutes left. The action went on as Kye Simpson missed when he scuffed a shot and it could have been a turning point as Bitton pounced with Knighton hitting the post only for McLennan to slam home the rebound with 12 minutes left to make it 2-1.

More bookings followed as the temperature rose again but Odd Down were not to be denied as with minutes left Kye Simpson was fouled in the box by Bitton substitute Zemell Burton and Asa White beat John with the spot kick to leave the result as honours even.

Hengrove Athletic 3 - 3 Hallen
Premier Division

Saturday 7th October 2017

The two sides from opposite ends of Bristol served up a treat for the 239 crowd, many of whom were watching their fourth game of the day in the Western League Ground Hop, with the destination of the points switching at regular intervals writes Kerry Miller.

Possibly playing at 7.45pm on a Saturday night for the first time in either club’s history, both embraced the occasion and went for it from the start.

Hallen began with a flourish and took the lead on three minutes when a Ben Willshire corner from the right was headed home by skipper Scott Thomas from close range. Thomas then nodded a long free-kick wide when he should possibly have done better but it didn’t appear to matter as on 24 minutes Tyler Davis’s mazy run and cross ended with Luke Crewe’s clearance rebounding in off the legs of Luke Mills to make it 2-0.

Jack Fillingham then crossed for Ben Crewe to have a shot blocked as Hengrove finally woke up and Lewis Dunn's free- kick was just wide and Scott Lewis's shot was blocked and Fillingham volleyed just over with Hallen just hanging on to their advantage. The half ended with a superb flying save by Grove's burly keeper Carl Bush, who flew away to the right to push a Aaron Anglin shot on to the post and away for a corner.

Hengrove took a few minutes to get into their stride on the restart but once they did the game changed as Hallen were forced to defend and their attacking options dried up for a while. On 54 minutes,they were back in the game as a foul wide on the saw Craig White curl a beauty into the top corner with Sam Burgess a spectator. Willshire’s 30 yard effort brought a good save out of Bush as Hallen regrouped but Hengrove were level on the hour as Rhys Hickery’s superb left footed effort flew in to make it 2-2.

Bush all but threw away the momentum when his clearance went straight to Arron Anglin but the Hallen man could not capitalise and the chance went begging, however they took the lead again on 72 minutes. Substitute Shadrack Twum-Barima, who was on the bench having only arrived at 7.40, worked well and his cross from the left was only half cleared and Scott Cousins gave his side the lead once again. Hengrove pushed hard for some reward for their play late on with Burgess tipping over a goalbound Fillingham header but two minutes into stoppage timeHallen threw away the two points with a needless handball in the box which Fillingham converted to make it 3-3 at the end of a thoroughly enjoyable and breathless Premier Division encounter.

Hengrove now prepare for the visit of a revitalised Bridgwater Town in the Somerset Premier Cup on Wednesday while Hallen have a few days off before they travel for an awkward looking GFA Trophy tie at Hellenic League Tuffley Rovers, in Gloucester tomorrow week.

Shepton Mallet 4 - 1 Brislington
Premier Division

Sunday 8th October 2017

James Billing has played the main bulk of his career in the Western and Southern Leagues as a striker with an eye for goal which has seen him at the likes of Bath City, Paulton Rovers, Frome Town, Welton Rovers, Radstock Town and now Shepton Mallet writes Kerry Miller.

More recent times have seen him patrolling the back line as captain but on Sunday morning, in front a crowd of almost 300, he showed why he has played at this level and above for so long with a superb hat-trick which destroyed a below strength, and at times disinterested Brislington. It was no more than the home side deserved as Jon Burr and Craig Loxton’s otherwise young side had far too much for the Bristolians who arrived with a long list of absentees according to the programme line ups.

A sunny morning greeted the weary Groundhoppers after four games which finished only 13 hours earlier, alongside a number of visitors from other local clubs which showed why the occasional veer away from the norm of 3pm on a Saturday can only be a good thing.

Danny Hunt fired over for Briz during what was a cagey opening before at the other end Tom Hill’s low skidder was held by Chris Blammon. Fabian McCarthy then showed some trickery on the byline but his cross was nodded away to safety. With 20 minutes gone the home side struck as the returning Tyson Pollard was free on the left and his accurate cross was met by the diving Billing who powered his header past Blammon. Pollard and Ashley Willmott then combined to see the effort deflected over but it mattered little as Briz presented the second on a plate. Billing robbed a defender just outside the area and squared it to the unmarked Pollard who rolled home the second five minutes after the first.

Blammon was kept busy most of the morning and took few prisoners with a regular verbal cascade which would have made a docker blush, should there have been one among the sun-served throng. His demeanour was not helped directly from the restart as a cross to the far post was far too inviting for Billing to miss and his precise header made it 3-0 and threatened to become embarrassing.

Brislington then woke up and enjoyed a brief spell with the ball as Shepton fell back briefly and George Jones blazed over from a good position but it fizzled out and James Peart, James Batchelor and McCarthy were all booked in a five minute spell as frustrations showed.

The visitors did eventually pull together and McCarthy, Oaklan Buck and Hunt combined for the latter to stab home a loose ball from four yards five minutes from time but Billing had the last laugh as substitute Tom Pawley released him through the middle and he drew Blammon before crashing home the hat-trick drive to clinch the points and put his side up to fifth, just two wins behind leaders Street.

Bishops Lydeard 2 - 3 Cheddar
First Division

Sunday 8th October 2017

After six matches around North Somerset, the hordes ventured south west and descended on Cothelstone Road for the final game of the weekend and once again they were not disappointed as Bishops Lydeard and Cheddar served up a treat to send them away happy with a total of 28 goals in the bag writes Kerry Miller.

The sides were locked together in the league table prior to kick-off but it was the Cheesemen who started well and totally outplayed the hosts for most of the opening half, somehow missing enough chances for Lydeard to be needing snookers at the break.

Robbi Maggs and Ricky Bennett ruled the roost and with Adam Jones in fine scoring form it was only a matter of when, and Maggs answered with a superb crossfield pass to Chris Coombs, whose first touch was good enough to send a right foot shot past Sam Carreau with just seven minutes on the clock. Stephen Pennington then hooked a shot wide and Craig Mawford was inches away from making it 2-o with an angled drive. Bennett was causing chaos in free play and with the dead ball and his corner saw Sam King flick a header just wide before Jones has a snap shot just held by Carreau. Lydeard were reduced to lumping the ball forward as the hard working defence took a breather but it soon returned as Jones twice went close as Cheddar threatened to run away with the game. Carreau somehow kept Jones out from two yards before another defensive howler let in King but the big defender missed badly from close in and the home side breathed again on the half hour.

Carreau saved again from King before completely against the run of play, Bishops Lydeard levelled with arguably their first real chance when Charlie Wilson escaped and crossed for James Quick to find the roof of the net via Ben Hebditch six minutes from the break. It got better as with the final play of the half Quick’s corner was missed by all and Hebditch was on the far post to give his side the lead, with the 264 strong crowd trying to work out how Cheddar were not home and hosed instead of behind.

The second half was a classic with the inevitable game changer from the penalty spot and more missed chances which all began with the superb Bennett’s free-kick reaching Pennington whose header was tipped over by Carreau. Cheddar looked to have gift wrapped the points two minutes later as referee Kevin Rudd was well placed to see Craig Mawford shove Quick but he hit the post with the spot kick and from there the game slowly went away from the red and blacks. Bennett was running the game at that point and his corner just missed Jones before King fired across the goal. King brought a good save out of Carreau and Jones nodded home but from an offside position then Carreau was again equal to his 25 yarder as Cheddar went for the jugular. Lydeard had a rare foray Wilson’s shot just kept out by Liam Kingston but Cheddar finally broke their hearts just past the hour when Jones superb volley hit the net and made everything which went before meaningless.Five minutes later Bennett was given too much room on the left and he crashed home the winner which was well deserved and long overdue. There were other chances late on but the points went back to the Theatre of Cheese where they prepare to welcome National League South side Bath City in the Somerset Premier Cup while Lydeard are likewise at home to Radstock Town.

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