Buckland Athletic 3 - 2 Bridport
Tuesday 17th October 2017
The scenario for Buckland prior to kick-off was straight forward, in that they needed to beat Western League FA Cup heroes Bridport by 15 clear goals at Homer Heath on Tuesday night to go top above Street on goal difference writes Kerry Miller.
And when Jared Lewington crashed a 25 yard drive against the post before the half hour with his side already 3-0 up, then for a while it looked as if Adam Fricker’s weakened side would be on the receiving end of the bulk of them. With Fricker away working and Tom Richardson, Richard Hebditch, Leigh Bailey and others not there for various reasons the Bees patched up side looked like cannon fodder for the home side who are chasing a place in the Southern League and have the impressive home ground to back up their ambition.
Few therefore would have predicted the superb comeback which occurred in the second half where captain Mark Salter’s double had the home side panicking and only a huge slice of bad luck right on the whistle robbed them of an unlikely but deserved point under assistant boss Jason Behan and coach Paul Thorpe.
Buckland started at a fast pace and wide man Lloyd Gardner began tormenting Dane James and from their first real attack he pulled a ball back from the byline and Richard Groves’ left foot put his side a goal up. Minutes later Lewington’s diving header hit the net but after the ball had gone out for a goal kick but the 125 strong crowd didn’t have to wait long for the second as Gardner again walzed past James and his pass was on a plate for Lewington to tap in untroubled.
Bridport were stunned and eventually broke when Buckland took a breath with Leighton Thomas and Breaden Symes linking well but Salter’s header lacked power and was saved by burly home keeper Kenny Griffiths. Two minutes later the home side were at it again and Groves found room down the middle and his finish past Darren Hutchings was clinical to make it 3-0 with only 20 minutes on the clock. To their credit Bridport kept going when they could and Oscar Latas’ pace took him away and his cross was knocked skywards by Thomas but Salter was just crowded out from the rebound. Ed Butcher then volleyed wide from distance before Lewington’s effort hit the post, which bizarrely was a turning point in the game. Butcher was wide again from 30 yards then Ben Carter, on a season’s loan from Tiverton Town, was booked for clattering Lee Sweet as the half came to a close.
Butcher’s third effort from way out flew a yard wide as everyone took a collective breath after helter-skelter first 45 minutes.
After the break Behan and Thorpe had obviously done their work as the Bees went on the offensive and Latas, Declan Cornish and Thomas combined for Salter to go close. At the other end Carter and Gardner both tested Hutchings but Bridport were in no mood to roll over and Butcher continued his one man crusade against Griffiths by driving just over. On the hour their hard graft was rewarded when Butcher’s speed took him into the area and was too much for Carter who brought him down and Salter dispatched the penalty, to exorcise memories of the previous two.
Griffiths then just kept Butcher out with his legs and after a great move with Thomas, the former Chard Town man fired over once again. With the half closing out the home defence slumbered for a second and a quick throw found Salter in space and he crashed in a left footer for his 485th senior goal to set up the grandstand finish. Symes the found Butcher on the left and in the gathering murk his effort somehow stayed out and Buckland duly went joint top of the league.