1st lose to Phoenix Sports 2-3
By Mark Beard
FA Cup dream over for another year
Three Bridges were knocked the FA cup in the Preliminary Round at home to Phoenix Sports. Bridges lost 3-2 in their second meeting with Phoenix this season. Jensen Grant and Connor French scored in a resilient Bridges performance but it was not enough to keep Bridges in the competition.
It wasn’t the ideal start for Bridges as within 36 seconds Phoenix found themselves with a penalty as Jeff Duah-Kessie fired over from just inside the box but according to the Referee he was pushed in the process. Ashley Probets stepped up and fired it into the top left, sending Thorp the wrong way.
Three Bridges nearly got a response just minutes after when Dan Da Costa e Silva cut in from the right and sent a left footed shot towards goal. It was weak but almost lobbed the keeper who claimed at full stretch.
Bridges continued their pressure and on 7 minutes they were awarded a penalty of their own due to some excellent play from Connor French. A ball was played over the top to French who chested the ball down with great composure and held the ball at his feet holding off two Phoenix defenders. He then found the smallest of gaps to turn into and the Phoenix defender could do nothing more than foul French and the referee awarded the penalty. Connor French then took the penalty himself, calmly planting the ball into the side netting to make it 1-1 within 10 minutes.
Phoenix then nearly restored their lead five minutes later when Duah-Kessie took on two of the Bridges defence and looked to be one-on-one with Thorp but Captain, Jamie Crellin, came to the rescue and slid in to make an excellent block. Crellin was then called into action again minutes later making an excellent tackle to stop Kweku Ansah who was on a surging run from midfield.
On the 24th minute Bridges nearly took the lead. Just like the Whitehawk game days before, Alex Laing and Connor French were linking up well down the right. On this occasion French held the ball up and played Laing down the wing, he then put a low driven ball into the feet of Da Costa e Silva who unleashed a shot that was heading towards goal but was blocked by the face of Phoenix defender Daniel Young.
A third penalty of the game was nearly awarded Phoenix crossed a low ball into the box and it then seemed to bounce and strike the hand of Jamie Crellin, but the Referee didn’t give a penalty and simply shook his head and waved play on much to the disgust of the Phoenix managers who were having constant trouble with the referee all game.
This didn’t put Crellin off, who was having an excellent game, and he made two more excellent interceptions soon after the penalty affair, first to block a header from a free kick and then to carefully execute a tackle from behind Duah-Kessie to stop him from being in on goal. Bridges were good on the counter attack and on the 36th minute they won a free kick after Laing was sent down the wing. Lee Hall excellently spotted a gap for Laing so he played the ball in front for Laing to run onto and he then delivered the ball into the box which fell to Jamie Taylor but his shot was blocked and sent out for a corner.
Bridges then took the lead just before half time when French played the ball square to Laing from the right wing, who held the ball up well on the edge of the box, he then spread the ball out to Nathan Simpson waiting on the left wing, who delivered a lovely floating ball into the box and Jensen Grant headed the ball home to make it 2-1 at half time.
Phoenix came out the better side and got their reward just six minutes into the second half. Ansah made an excellent run from the half way line and looked to be going all the way but instead he slid in Jeff Duah-Kessie who then slotted past Thorp to make it 2-2.
Bridges had a chance to regain the lead after French put a lovely ball into the box and Taylor got a deft touch but unfortunately it bounced just past the post. Taylor had another chance soon after when Grant flicked the ball on from a goal kick which landed at the feet of Taylor who turned the defender with great skill fired at goal but the Phoenix keeper got down well to save and keep it level.
It was then Thorp’s turn to make a save this came after a Phoenix corner and after some pinball in the box it landed at the feet of a Phoenix player who poked it towards goal and Thorp did well to spread himself and make an outstanding save.
Unfortunately for Bridges this was all in vein as minutes later Ryan Andrews launched a free kick into the box from half way and Jeff Duah-Kessie rose highest and headed the ball into the bottom corner to complete the turnaround for Phoenix in the 70th minute.
Phoenix then defended well and shut Bridges out for the remainder of normal time but the referee played 7 minutes of added time much to the disgust of the Phoenix bench. In the 97th minute Bridges got a free kick almost on the half way line, Thorp launched it into the box but it was cleared and then the referee finally blew for full time to see Bridges knocked out of the FA Cup and see the dream go for another year.
Highlights of the game are at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=40mPhB7q4nU
Aerotron Man of the Match: Jensen Grant
Report by Sam Gadsdon