Bradford Town 3 - 3 Cadbury Heath
Wednesday 13th December 2017
Bouts of torrential rain throughout the day and evening made this game doubtful right up to near kick-off time but just for a change common sense prevailed and referee Brian Channing’s decision to go ahead was rewarded by a classic at Trowbridge Road to gladden the hearts of the wet and bedraggled writes Kerry Miller.
Title-chasing Bradford took the lead three times but were pegged back by Cadbury Heath and even a 30 man coming together and a sending off deep into injury-time did not take anything away from this match between two sides who play football and score plenty of goals and a share of the six was only some of the story. Town had netted ten in the last three games, including making fine progress in the FA Vase while Cadbury Heath had a free day on Saturday thanks to the weather, having beaten Stonehouse in the GFA Trophy a few days earlier.
What was to be a breathless game got off to a flying start when Martin Lenihan drove over from way out then at the other end Sacha Tong all but finished off a nice move but his effort was deflected for a corner. Town took the lead on 14 minutes when Matt Morris threaded a ball through to Sam Jordan and his persistence paid off as he netted at the second attempt but the lead lasted just moments as Kristian Lee floated over a free-kick and Tong’s header had just enough on it to beat the defenders on the line. It should have been two for Heath soon after as a 50 yard pass found Matt Huxley racing clear but he found the side netting rather than the goal then Tong again went close but Charlie Phillips was in the right place. Billy Fletcher then was wide with a flying header before a stunning one touch move from Town ended with Karim Rendall going close and what was an end to end match intensified as a defensive error let in Simon McElroy but he shot wide from a good position.
The chances kept coming and Jordan’s side foot shot from six yards was somehow kept out by Matt Turner, a save sportingly acknowledged by Jordan who could only watch moments later as his shot appeared to hit the base of a post before sticking in the mud and being cleared.
After the break the action continued unabated and Heath’s first attack ended with a curling cross finding Tong who went close before Town wasted a fine chance when Rendall headed over from a good position but he made amends on the hour with a close range header after Lenihan had put his curling cross on a plate. Once again the home lead did not last as two minutes later Kris Lee floated a free-kick and the wind took it over Phillips and in off the bar to make it 2-2.
Jordan then went off but Morris twice tested Turner with drives before a remarkable scramble where McElroy, George Boon and Huxley all had shots blocked and the home goal survived intact with few knowing exactly how. Tong was denied again by Phillips before the match reached a nail-biting and controversial ending. Heath were stretched wide and Mark Wall threw over a cross which appeared to go in off a defender with Lenihan in among the fray to make it 3-2 with 12 minutes left and that should have that but for a chaotic last couple of minutes. Away keeper Turner went up field to contest a last gasp corner which predictably curled towards goal and Lee got the touch among the bodies with everyone having an opinion as to whether the ball went in or not. Referee Channing consulted his linesman at length before awarding the goal but more was to follow.
With tensions high a midfield clash brought a mass confrontation but the instant dismissal of Lee took the sting out of the situation and moments later it was all over, with Heath well deserving of their point while Town were left to rue missed chances which have made a dent in the title aspirations, but not an unfixable one.
They now go into an intense Christmas period with a visit to Wellington on Saturday followed by a home game with bottom on the table Longwell Green Sports all leading to the big game on Boxing Day when Melksham Town visit at 1pm for what is sure to be a full-blooded encounter. There is then the little matter of an FA Vase tie at Newport IOW as Town look to continue one of the best seasons in their history.