Cribbs 0 - 1 Bitton
Tuesday 12th September 2017
A Reeko Best goal just before the break was enough to send Bitton into ninth place in the Premier Division and prevent Cribbs from going second after what in the end became a war of attrition in awful conditions at the Lawns on Tuesday night writes Kerry Miller.
Both sides did their best to play some football but the gale force end to end wind and driving rain made it a lottery for much of the game. With the awful weather forecast and Manchester United and Chelsea both in European action, it was little surprise there were no more than two dozen men, women and dogs huddled in the two stands.
Cribbs had blasted no less than 18 goals in their last two games, beating Longwell Green Sports away 9-0 last Tuesday before hitting another nine in the FA Vase at Peninsula League side Witheridge on Saturday, but there was absolutely no chance of making it a treble on a foul night.
Bitton’s policy at first may well have been shoot on sight to use the elements in the first half and Tom Knighton was the first to pull the trigger but his effort was weak then Sol Wanjau-Smith sent a dipping free-kick just over from way out. The home defence was working hard with the huge twin central men Chris Kite and Tom Burns both to the fore and they were given the run around by a Bitton attack where most things went through all action Adam Madhi. The former Bristol Rovers youngster has been around the block since his two season spell as a pro at the Gas and showed why he reached that level eight years ago covering the whole playing surface and linking up the forward play. Matt Tovey’s run and shot ended with a corner then Josh Egan cut a ball back at pace for Lewis Powell to have his shot cleared by Burns.
Zemell Burton forced a save from Dave Hill with a powerful header before the anticipated storm hit the ground making Bitton’s one touch possession football very difficult and Cribbs’s all but impossible. Bitton continued to test Hill via Ben Wych and Mahdi, who curled a beauty just over on the half hour but as the rain eased so Cribbs looked to counter and Ben Dowdell, who with Charlie Aldom and Nathan Legge had all scored five goals in the last two games, drive over when well placed. With half-time looming Powell found room to set Best away and the striker slid the ball home, past Hill who collided with him, and while celebrations went on, Best went off, his day done but ironically having made the telling contribution in the game.
Sportingly, despite having been booked for the challenge, keeper Hill helped carry Best from the field of play which did him no harm at all.
Whereas in rugby circles any game in that kind of condition would mean the team using the wind would look for a 20 point buffer at the break, Bitton had to be content with one goal and Cribbs were confident of turning things around. As the weather worsened the game deteriorated for a while with the odd bit of petulance put down to the all-encompassing ‘frustration’, but for once this could be an excuse as most passes were caught in the wind until past the hour mark.
James Derosa then almost found Aldom who just missed the ball but Bitton were finding more of the play against the wind than Cribbs did and a crisp move ended with Mahdi volleying at Hill who saved well. Bitton substitute Kyle Tooze then fired in a shot which Hill could only parry to the onrushing Knighton, who was wide from three yards. It should have sealed the points but excellent work from George King won a free-kick but Dowdell hit thebar with his curling effort and Bitton survived. As the wind eased slightly Bitton again raided and Powell was causing problems which led to Scott Brice who brought another save out of Hill.
With minutes left Cribbs thought they had levelled when Jack McKenna set up Aldom but his shot was just parried enough to deflect past the post for a corner. Burns came up to test Ben John but he was up to the task and the points went back to Bitton, while Cribbs prepare for trips to Chipping Sodbury on Saturday and Cullompton Rangers in the FA Vase on Saturday week.