Cadbury Heath 2 - 3 Bridport (AET)
Wednesday 20th September 2017
Some 17 years ago Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson and the FA colluded to consign the much-loved national institution which is the FA Cup to a long and painful demise with the shameful decision to pull out of the competition and play in Brazil in a futile attempt at garnering votes for the World Cup bid, writes Kerry Miller.
Despite them, the Cup is still with us and until at least January each year it holds the magic for which it has been associated since Queen Victoria was knocking about.
On Wednesday night at a rainy Spingfield, Cadbury Heath and Bridport showed just what the Cup is really about as they produced a match not only as good as Saturday’s classic, but even better in front of a healthy crowd, for once not kept indoors by an irrational obsession with European football.
Having drawn 2-2 in the first game, with two goals in injury time which left 250 people breathless, they went at it again in the replay which once more was a credit to both clubs and the league. In the end it was the Dorset club who went away with the healthy £4,500, a place in the next round where they travel to National League South St Albans City and the not undeserved accolade as the last Western League side in this season’s competition.
Cadbury Heath welcomed back Sacha Tong and Leon Maloney, who were unavailable in Dorset but as the rain came down they were caught early in similar circumstances. With seven minutes gone Heath lost the ball in midfield and when it was swept in from the left Richard Hebditch slammed it home from ten yards, just as he did on Saturday.
It was a stunner but worse was to come as the Bees came up with a classic. From a throw in skipper Mark Salter challenged for the ball and when it fell to Tom Richardson 30 yards out, his curling volley was never going anywhere other than the back of the net, via Dan Worton’s far post.
The first half hour was all Bridport as the Heathens rarely troubled Jason Hutchings, one of the heroes of the first game and just past it a long free-kick found Richardson again whose header was deflected just wide. Ed Butcher then tested Worton and when the ball ran loose Salter knocked it over the bar. George Boon found room to fire in a cross which Hutchings held to end a one-sided half which Heath boss Rob Mallett needed to rectify.
As the rain came down Cadbury Heath upped the ante and Bridport were put under pressure for the first time, substitute Ali Bamford being involved in most things until on the hour he reached the byline and his cross was hammered home by Simon McElroy to halve the deficit.
Matt Huxley entered the fray soon after and it was almost inevitable that he would influence the game. An almighty scramble ended with Rob Scott driving over then Huxley had a lob shot saved by Hutchings but with the Bees dropping back and showing signs of unravelling, Heath almost levelled when Lewis Shipp crossed for Braeden Symes to all but concede an own goal.
The Bridport goal was leading a charmed life and McElroy’s drive with less than ten minutes left crashed back off the far post with Hutchings rooted to the spot. With the home side pouring forward looking for the equaliser, a quick ball out of defence found Salter all alone on the half way line and he advanced, only to see the ball bobble as he got to strike mode and the chance went begging with many wondering if that was a turning point, albeit at such an advanced stage. Amazingly it was, as seconds later Worton launched a free-kick towards Huxley, whose back header looped over Hutchings and in to send the home crowd wild with a minute of injury time showing, and bringing extra-time.
Salter almost made amends in the first period when he fired in a shot on the run which was deflected wide then Leighton Thomas, maker of both goals on Saturday, then went on a pitch length run past a rapidly tiring Heathen side, before he was kept out by Worton. Bridport then struck deep into the final phase when Salter’s knock on found Ed Butcher on the left and he advanced before crashing home what proved to be the clincher.
It was not over as with both sides carrying injured passengers and some others playing from memory through exhaustion, keeper Worton was in the right place, on the Bees penalty area as a corner fell to him, but his crisp shot cannoned off a defender and away for a corner, which came to nothing and then it was all over.
Referee Neil Pratt, who had a fine game, signalled the end of a classic which deserves to be remembered and Bridport now get the road map out to plan the trip to St Albans on Saturday week.