Whitstable Town 1 - 1 Three Bridges 1st
By Mark Beard
Two sending offs, a penalty miss and two early second half goals, but this wasn't a game for the purists.
Whitstable even had to begin the game without latecomer Tom Bryant whilst Nathan Simpson was harshly cautioned for protecting his face and being adjudged to have handled the ball.
However, the first meaningful action came midway through the first half when Alex Laing slipped the ball wide to Mason Doughty, whose low cross was somehow missed by both Trevor McCreadie and the otherwise excellent Jensen Grant. The hard working Stephen Smith then produced a fine low save by Giovanni Porciatti, but after 32 minutes the home side were reduced to ten men when Chris Saunders was dismissed for a challenge on Lee Hall.
It seemed a bit harsh to be a straight red, but on the stroke of half time the referee showed that the standard had been set when he also dismissed Laing for a mistimed challenge, although a yellow again looked to be more realistic.
Inbetween the two dismissals, Doughty forced Dan Eason to make a good block after being set up by Laing, Grant saw a shot deflected over and Bridges wasted the chance to go ahead when they were awarded a penalty following a pull on Jamie Crellin. McCreadie smashed the spot kick against the crossbar and the half ended even worse with Laing's dismissal.
Three minutes into the second half Louis Sprosen, who delivered a number of tempting balls into the danger area, sent a low drive into the box and Tom Walmsley clipped home. Within three minutes though, Bridges were back on level terms with Hall's free kick being nudged on by Grant and Crellin before Joe Tennent forced the ball over the line.
McCreadie had two chances, one a header straight at the keeper from another Hall cross and the other a beautifully struck effort from wide on the left that was pushed away.
Another goal looked unlikely but both sides came close in added time, Stephen Smith firing over under pressure from Nathan Simpson, whilst a Hall corner was headed just wide by Tennent, who just shaded Grant to be Man of the Match in his opening two games for Bridges.
Aerotron Man of the Match: Joe Tennent
Report by Alf Blackler