Toolstation Cup

Bitton staged a remarkable recovery from being 2-0 down in three minutes to set up a last gasp winner and take the Toolstation Charity Cup at a sunny Fairfax Park, Bridgwater on Saturday afternoon writes Kerry Miller.

A Matt Groves strike seconds from the end sent Yorkshire side Bridlington Town home empty handed after an excellent match, which was a credit to both the Western and the Northern Counties East Leagues.

Bridlington arrived at Fairfax Park having ended last season in third place behind champions Worksop Town and Penistone Church, who won the cup last year, and it soon became obvious why as Matt Broadley slung in an inch perfect cross for Joe McFadyen to volley past Bitton keeper Sam Burgess via a slight deflection with a minute on the clock. With their next attack the square defence was rooted as McFadyen latched onto a through ball and lobbed Burgess from 25 yards out to make it 2-0 inside three minutes and when seconds later McFadyen was free in the box with the defence struggling, only a last ditch tackle robbed the striker of one of the quickest ever hat-tricks.

Remarkably for the visitors, who made the journey down that morning, that was as good as it got, for Dan Langdon’s men regrouped and began to claim a toe hold on the game and five minutes later the lead was halved as Alex Grimshaw found room on the left and Groves nodded home his cross. Happily for the supporters this was anything but a pre-season friendly stroll and with Dean Griffiths’ strength causing problems up front and some incisive passing fotball from both sides more goals were on the cards. Burgess tipped over a free-kick on the half hour and Griffiths had a drive well saved by James Hitchcock then Groves’ superb first touch allowed him to set up Josh Egan but he volleyed over from 12 yards.

Just on half-time Bitton levelled when Groves’ curled in a corner which somehow ended up in the net via a defender’s head and from a seemingly disastrous opening Bitton were playing some great stuff and were right back in the game.

Right from the restart Bitton went at Bridlington and Griffiths had another drive saved by Hitchcock before the Yorkshiremen showed they were still in there pitching as Ben Lewis was just wide with a left foot drive. Bitton substitute Mitch Tipping then had an effort of his own held before Egan hit the bar with a shot and with both sides going for the win and penalties looming Fraser Papprill was close with a free-kick for Town. McFadyen was inches away from a match-winning hat-trick five minutes from time but it wasn’t to be and soon after Groves drove in the winner to make sure the Toolstation Cup resides in Bristol for the next 12 months as Bitton prepared in style for another tilt at the Western League title.

Our thanks to James Healey for his excellent photos which you can view BY CLICKING HERE