Bridgwater Town 3 - 1 Clevedon Town
Saturday 27th January 2018
With Bridgwater having lost their last four home games and Clevedon unbeaten in seven, few would have predicted the outcome of this match but it was never in doubt as the Robins rarely looked in any danger and celebrated the returned Jack Taylor, who netted twice in a frantic first half, writes Kerry Miller.
With only three other Toolstation Western League matches beating the constant rain which has plagued the west country since Christmas, it was a pleasant surprise to see the Fairfax Park pitch looking perfectly playable and the early positive decision meant a healthy 207 assembled to see a feisty first half with four goals followed by a slightly less hectic second period.
Clevedon currently have a glut of youngsters who have come out of the impressive youth set up at the Hand Stadium backed up by experience in the shape of ex-Bath City man Sekani Simpson and Clayton Fortune. Also in the side is former Bristol City midfielder Alex Russell, who in a long career made more than 400 appearances for a raft of sides and was half way through his League career before many of his Clevedon teammates were born.
Robins’ boss Dave Pearse raised a few eyebrows before the game with Josh White and Ryan Burrows on the bench but the home support soon bought into the bosses’ plans as his side got stuck in from the start on what was a heavy but playable surface. Jake Llewellyn sat out what was the last of his four match suspension following his sending off against Street but Bridgwater settled well and with Clevedon giving the ball away in their own half twice in a few seconds, Mike Duffy had the first chance but stubbed his shot. Simpson then went on a run from deep to feed the overlapping Liam Dempsey but his cross was blazed over by Tyler Ashmead before at the other end Pearse and Syd Camper created a massive scramble which was somehow cleared off the line at the college end. Kurt Robinson’s cross was then almost flicked home by Harry Horton but by then visiting striker Morgan Williams had been subjected to some slightly unsavoury treatment more than once and it was little surprise that the Clevedon bench went nuts when Dempsey was booked for his first challenge while the home defence went unpunished.
Happily it all settled down and Dempsey tested Jake Viney with a fierce drive which he could only parry out but seconds later the home side were in front. Camper slung over a high cross from the left and Taylor arrived just before keeper Damien Freeman and he only had to roll it home from a yard out to give his side the lead on 25 minutes. Things got worse for the Seasiders when Glen Hayer came off worse following an honest challenge right in front of the main stand and a studded calf meant his game was over on the half hour. Tom Baker nodded a corner over for Clevedon then after the ball was given away Russell was close to equalising with Viney scrambling back but the half was not going well for them and it got worse on 38 minutes. Camper again was involved and his pass to Pearse was chested down to Jack Jenkins and the former Barnstaple Town man hooked in his first goal for the club from 15 yards out.
With many heading for a crafty pint and a glimpse of the FA Cup half-times, Camper set up the escaping Taylor and his inch perfect lob sailed over the stranded Freeman for the third, which looked to have sealed the deal. Instead, direct from the restart the diminutive but fiery Williams was stringenough to hold off a challenge in the box and he hooked in a left foot effort off the post with what was the last kick of the half.
The second half was unlikely to match the first and in truth petered out quickly but Mark Armstong shot wide from a corner early on then Pearse’s volley also flew wide of the post but Clevedon did not give up their unbeaten record without a fight and teenager Ashmead lobbed wide from wide out.
Lucas Vowles has made a big impact since moving up to the senior ranks from the U18 squad and his strong shot from an acute angle was only parried by Viney but the defence was covering and the crisis was averted. Late on Horton blasted a shot over before Ashmead was wide with a rare chance for Clevedon and there was time for Bridgwater to have the ball in the net from Armstrong following a Jenkins cross but it was ruled out for offside and the points stayed at Fairfax Park.
The Robins will be looking to continue their form when they travel to Cadbury Heath on Saturday while Clevedon Town entertain Buckland Athletic, both at 3pm weather permitting.