1st lose to Haywards Heath 2 - 0
By Mark Beard
Bridges lose local derby
Before this game Three Bridges and Haywards Heath Town were separated by just 2 points. A win against a local side would prove crucial for either side but Haywards Heath came out on top with a 2-0 victory on the night after two goals in the first half set the tone for the remainder of the fixture.
In an exciting start to the game, it was Haywards Heath who got the first chance after good work from Callum Saunders down the right wing saw him cut inside Nathan Simpson and shoot but the effort was tame and Giovanni Porciatti saved comfortably low to his left. Bridges then got their first chance 4 minutes into the game after Alex Laing did well to beat Sean Roddy on the left and put a delightful cross into the box but Heath’s keeper, Josh Heyburn, got a touch on it which looked to see it out for a corner but the ball was kept in and set back to Jensen Grant 5 yards out but Heyburn recovered well and saved Grant’s effort.
Five minutes in Haywards Heath had a penalty shout after good play again by Saunders, who had an excellent game for Heath, found himself in a shooting position but Simpson slid in and, despite Heath's protests, the referee saw nothing wrong with the challenge and played on.
Bridges settled and created a few chances of their own. The first came after Laing forced a throw in on the on the left wing where the ball was fed to Jensen Grant who slipped the ball into Connor French on the edge of the box who skilfully flicked the ball to Tyrone Berry on the edge of the box but Berry volleyed over the bar - an excellent move by Bridges.
Seconds later Grant was involved again and fed the ball to striker Trevor McCreadie who had just one defender to beat but took the shot early and dragged it wide of the target. Bridges' best chance of the half and game fell on 15 minutes after McCreadie won a free kick in a good position after being pushed while going up for a header. Lee Hall stood over the free kick and delivered a lovely ball into the box and a mix-up with two Heath defenders saw the ball land at the feet of French who hit a powerful volley but somehow Josh Heyburn got a leg to it to deny Bridges taking the lead.
It was then Haywards Heath's turn to put on the pressure and it paid off in the 21st minute after the ball was launched up to target man Melford Simpson who took a great touch and fired a low shot that was excellently saved by Porciatti but Karl Akehurst reacted fastest and poked in the rebound despite Porciatti’s best efforts.
Bridges had a chance of an almost instant comeback after Laing played in McCreadie who was blocked off by Heath's defence. The referee gave a free kick much to the disgust of McCreadie who believed he was fouled inside the box but the referee had made his decision and a free kick was given. The free kick was a good move from Bridges as Laing played a smart ball to the edge of the box where Tyrone Berry was waiting but saw his first time shot just skim past the post.
Hayward’s Heath made it 2-0 in the 31st minute after Saunders won the ball off Laing in his own half and made a darting run before switching the ball to Max Miller whose shot was spilled for a corner by Porciatti. Saunders whipped the corner in with pace and Karl Akehurst rose highest to head home for his second of the game and give Haywards Heath a two goal advantage.
This settled the fixture and the only other noticeable event of the first half was Haywards Heath Captain, Naim Rouane, being forced off with an injury to his Achilles with just a minute of the half left. Rouane was clapped off by both sets of supporters, being replaced by Kieran Rowe, and was later seen on crutches cheering on his side.
The second half was hardly a spectacle for either side with both failing to create many clear cut chances. The only action in the first ten minutes of the half was a shot from Laing that was well blocked by Heath's defence.
Heath were almost handed a goal in the 59th minute after a rare poor distribution from Porciatti with the ball falling to Miller but he could only drag his shot wide.
Heath should have had that elusive third goal in the 68th minute after Saunders fired his shot into the side netting after a good run down the right side. Bridges played into the hands of Haywards Heath in the second half and they could only create one clear cut chance in the 90th minute when Joe Tennet could only head over from a corner.
Bridges continue their league run at home on Saturday, 29th September in another local derby, this time facing East Grinstead in a 3:00 pm kick off at Jubilee Field.
Man of the match: Jensen Grant
Report by Sam Gadston