Bridport 2 - 2 Cadbury Heath
Saturday 16th September 2017
With the only two remaining Western League sides drawn against each other it was hoped against hope that they would provide an FA Cup tie which made the rest of the members clubs proud and Bridport and Cadbury Heath did just that on Saturday when they produced a match which will linger long in the memory writes Kerry Miller.
The biggest crowd of the season so far at St Mary’s Field braved the poor weather which brought heavy rain for the third consecutive match day and were given a game which had everything bar a decider and even that was only seconds away with what turned out to be an equaliser with the last header of the game deep into stoppage time.
Bees’ skipper Mark Salter is an old hand at cup ties, his long and successful career having taken in two long spells at Frome Town, where he broke the goalscoring and appearances records, a period at Southend United plus turning out for Bath City, Street and Bitton before joining Bridport. He led the home line hoping to edge closer to the magic figure of 500 senior goals, being currently on 478 but it was another with a long goalscoring pedigree, Cadbury Heath’s Matt Huxley, who proved to be the catalyst for the excitement inside five minutes. Both goals had seen scrambles in the opening minutes before a long ball through the middle was flicked on by Huxley with the home defence square and George Boon latched on and rounded keeper Jason Hutchings before putting his side ahead.
The Heathens did not seem to be missing Leon Maloney, who was on holiday and striker Sasha Tong, who was at a wedding and settled quicker on a surface made slicker by the heavy rain as Bridport struggled to contain the lively forward line where Huxley and Boon were linking well. Home striker Richard Hebditch, who a few months ago was playing Perry Street League football , was soon causing problems of his own and he fed Kameron Andrews, but his shot from a tight angle was gathered by Dan Worton in the Heath goal. Breaden Symes then shot wide which was not an uncommon occurrence as the fine build up play, which threatened goals, was hamstrung by poor shooting, until Simon McElroy crashed a volley against Bees’ the bar on the half hour mark.
Bridport countered only for Salter to nod over from an awkward cross and then test Worton with a crisp drive which he was equal to. Ironically, after 36 minutes of end to end play and no shortage of chances, Cadbury Heath had a golden opportunity to go 2-0 up when Kristian Lee fed Boon, whose trickery in the area was too much for Symes whose foul made referee Iain Parsons’ penalty decision a formality. Huxley’s left foot spot-kick was superbly kept out low to his left by Hutchings and Bridport were still in the game and wondering whether that would be a turning point. Hutchings then did well to hold a drive from distance from Jack Camm who tried again moments later with the same result, the home keeper collecting three stunning stops in less than two minutes.
Just before the break Bridport thought they had drawn level when after a concerted attack, Andy Martin slung over a long deep cross but Leigh Bailey’s far post volley hit the side netting.
After the break the whole complexion of the tie changed as Bridport poured forward and pinned Cadbury Heath into their half for long periods. Wide man Leighton Thomas had had a quiet first period but was soon in the action and he found room to reach the bye line before squaring for Hebditch to crash home the equaliser with just four minutes gone of the second half.
Heath soon lost Huxley who was replaced and they were reduced to sporadic ventures into the opposing half, and Salter flicked on for Hebditch who was unlucky with another effort. Bailey then had a far post header cleared off the line before Tom Richardson and Thomas both went close but Ed Butcher then brought the save of the day out of Worton with a bullet of a drive which he kept out at full length, but the longer the chances went begging the more likely it was looking that at worse Cadbury Heath would hold out for a replay and at best would sneak a winner on the counter. They rehearsed that plan with Boon getting wide and crossing for substitute Lewis Shipp to head over then at the other end Butcher again got hold of a drive which Worton once more kept out.
Thomas was seeing plenty of the ball and he and Salter linked for Hebditch to once again have a shot saved before he then had a header kept out from yet another Thomas cross before with 92 minutes showing on the clock, Cadbury Heath broke and all hell broke loose as a move on the right left McElroy to crash an angled shot past Hutchings to seemingly break Dorset hearts.
Remarkably it was not to be as with the last move of the match Thomas once more jinked to the goalline before teeing up Symes who nodded the Bees level to cause the second bout of pandemonium inside a couple of minutes.
So everyone sallies forth to Springfield on Wednesday night to see which club has the honour of being the last Toolstation Western League side left in the FA Cup this season and the privilege of travelling to St Albans City or Cambridge City (who play at St Ives Town) on Saturday week.