Wesbury United 2 - 0 Radstock Town
Saturday 12th August 2017In the end two incidents either side of half-time which could have influenced the outcome of this match were consigned to memory as Westbury United overcame a resolute Radstock Town side to leapfrog them and go top of Division One at a sunny Meadow Lane on Saturday writes Kerry Miller.
Goals from Ricky Hulbert and Jamie Jordan were enough to put the Greens level at the top of the fledgling league table alongside Chippenham Park but ahead on goal difference going into the derby with struggling Corsham Town on Tuesday night.
However, it could have been all over bar the shouting if Dan Kovacs’ appeal for a penalty had gone his way instead of a free-kick and a caution for an alleged dive and his open goal miss just after the break had gone in instead of hitting the side netting.
Radstock arrived having won both openers and scored eight goals in the process but holidays and unavailability had robbed them of key players as they looked to settle on Westbury’s immaculate looking surface. The teams cancelled each other out in what was a quiet start until Simon Millard’s free-kick came to nothing for the Miners and his half volley from a corner was touched over by home keeper Lewis Porter. It was all Radstock until Kovacs was given too much room on the left and as he went down under a challenge, referee Declan Brown was no more than five yards away and ruled against the former Melksham Town man, with a free-kick and a caution.
Radstock’s let off lasted two minutes as they were found square again and Hulbert was through to lob Glen Murley from 25 yards to give Westbury the lead on 17 minutes. Town responded well and Luke Ingram’s cross was deflected towards Matt Minnis but it glanced off his head rather than testing Porter and Westbury escaped. By then the game had picked up pace and Kovacs had a snap shot saved while Danny Lock’s cross was just missed by James Rustell and Minnis around the half hour.
Town were showing no signs of tailing off and Rustell had a flying header then Jack Biddecombe was wide with a 25 yarder before the break which came with the home side a goal to the good.
Kovacs should have doubled the score just after the break when a back pass to Murley bounced up and he was robbed but with the goal gaping Kovacs hit the side netting and the golden chance was gone. Radstoc k sensed they were still in the game and upped the ante and briefly tempers flared but player-joint manager Joe Kirkpatrick’s free-kick was not cleared and Matt Jones saw his volley blocked.
Both sides made changes just past the hour mark with Kovacs giving way to Mark Robinson and Millard replaced by Matt Mead but injuries began to disrupt the play and with a succession of free-kicks Jordan was a touch lucky to escape a booking for two clear trips but he was involved when Westbury broke quickly and Hulbert lobbed over with ten minutes left.
Radstock threw everything forward and Minnis had an overhead kick go wide before he was in on goal to tuck the ball home with two minutes gone but the linesman’s flag was up for offside and Westbury escaped. Deep into injury time Jordan gathered the ball with Radstock’s defence struggling and his shot was deflected past Murley by the hapless Tom Stocks and rolled home to clinch the three points and top spot in Division One.
We have had a goal of setting up a pathway for the youth players at Westbury to come through to the first team and we now have three adult teams here.
Westbury United have played at their Meadow Lane home since 1934 when it was purchased for £475 and arguably the old girl has never looked in better fettle. Chairman Matt Bright and secretary Greg Coulson are rightly proud of the ground which has been given a long awaited brush up with new pitch surrounds and a paint job, with long term sponsors Eastern Paradise renaming the main stand which has stood straddling the half way line since the original wooden stand burned down in 1971.
Greg is also chairman of the youth section and he said: "We have had a goal of setting up a pathway for the youth players at Westbury to come through to the first team and we now have three adult teams here." The club has formed a development side which makes its debut in the Trowbridge and District League next month which will be made up of all local players with the reserve side in the Wiltshire County League which began at Malmesbury Vics Development today.
Both men are coaches and Matt added: "The development team is an extra step and it has had the added bonus of bringing some parents down to the club, with a crowd of 129 attending the first team game against Malmesbury in midweek. There have been some new faces at the ground with some locals giving the side a look and it is up to us to make sure they return with a smile."
The father and son management team of Neil and Joe Kirkpatrick took over back in February and having steered the club to safety have now begun a rebuild with Dan Kovacs and Ricky and Steve Hulbert coming across from Melksham Town while keeper Lewis Porter has rejoined his local club once more. Neil Kirkpatrick has a fine history with league titles at Larkhall Athletic and he has set a target of promotion in three years, which looks well on the cards as their side hit top by the third game of the new campaign.
The club looked to new principle sponsor Southern Co-operative, where youth coach Nick Jones secured funding as he works with all the teams helping with physical fitness and personal coaching, having been with the U15 side since they were Under 7.
It all looks good for the White Horse Men who are geared up for a brand new era and with neighbours Chippenham Town and Melksham Town enjoying life in higher leagues and a new ground , there seems no reason why Westbury United cannot make it a Wiltshire treble.