Bridgwater Town 2 - 3 Street
Saturday 23rd December 2017
With this being a local derby which had plenty of significance to both clubs, not less because of Street boss Richard Fey having managed at Fairfax Park not that long ago, it was never going to be one for the faint-hearted writes Kerry Miller. Happily, it did not disappoint the excellent crowd on what is traditionally the worst Saturday of the season and five first half goals, a missed penalty, seven bookings and a sending off plus a stand up row between the visiting management and most of the grandstand’s spectators all added up to a classic, with Street coming back from a two goal deficit to win.
Bridgwater were on the back of three straight defeats, which began with the Vase replay at Melksham and they had not troubled the scoreboard in all three while Street began the day nine points clear of Willand Rovers having played three games more and with those sides clashing at the Tannery next Saturday.
On what looked like a tricky surface the Robins began at a pace and inside four minutes were a goal up as Syd Camper, Ryan Burrows and Jack Jenkins broke through the middle and when the ball broke to Jake Llewellyn he crashed a left footer past a helpless Tom Punchard. Street responded with David O’Hare volleying just wide then Burrows’ snap shot was held by Punchard as Bridgy had the early edge. Predictably for what quickly turned into a no-nonsense old fashioned Western League derby, there were no shortage of free-kicks but it was from a fine open play move that the lead was doubled. Kurt Robinson raided down the left and his wicked cross was too much for the defence and Camper bundled it home from five yards on 19 minutes to stun the leaders.
Street were not fazed and inside a minute they had halved the deficit as the speedy Steve Murray got away down the left and his pull back from the by line left Craig Herrod to slam it home from close range. Murray was finding room as Street quickly grew into the game and after Nathan Rudge and Richard Fey were given a final warning by referee Sam Littlefair, Ross McErlain almost embarrassed home keeper Jake Viney with a free-kick which bounced just in front of him but he kept it out. The reprieve was short lived as another free-kick was leifted in on 37 minutes and when it was not cleared O’Hare nodded it in from five yards to level at 2-2.
Still the frantic pace continued and four minutes later Street were in front as the increasingly shell-shocked home defence creaked as yet another quickly taken free-kick by Lewis Tasker found O’Hare who swept home the third. Just on the break an attack from the left ended with Lee Begg handling in the box which gave O’Hare the chance to complete a seven minute first half hat-trick, but Viney flew away to his left to tip the spot-kick onto a post and safety to keep his side in the game with what was the last kick of the half.
Street from the restart Street broke and Murray’s shot was parried to Herrod but his follow up was just blocked before Bridgy looked to have shot themselves in the foot before the hour mark when Jake Llewellyn was shown a straight red for a lunge on O’Hare leaving the home side what looked like a small mountain to climb. To their credit they made a decent stab of ascending it despite McErlain and Murray going close. Both benches made changes but as the pace began to ease Bridgwater were still in the game and a corned looked to be heading for the goal with ten minutes left but was somehow scrambled away with a few anxious glances going in the direction of the linesman. With nerves fraying referee Littlefair played almost ten minutes of injury time but Street held on and with Willand also taking three points, remain nine clear going into Boxing Day.
Bridgwater have another home derby, this time with Wellington at 3pm and will play poorer than this and still win at some stage in the second half of this campaign.