East Grinstead Town 4 - 4 Three Bridges
By Mark Beard
A well deserved point
Bridges snatched a point in the 93rd minute in a thrilling local derby with East Grinstead. Joe Tennent scored twice from the back in the last minute of both halves and it was his 93rd-minute header from a corner that saw Bridges snatch a point so late on.
It was an even start to the game with both sides moving the ball well and sharing possession in the first 15 minutes. However, it was Bridges who got the first clear cut chance of the fixture. A poor Grinstead corner was cleared and the ball fell loose on the Box to Tennent who strived forward toward the halfway line with Grinstead totally outnumbered at the back. The ball was eventually held up and switched to Alex Clarke who was left one on one with Brannon Daly who saved Clarke’s shot well but he pushed the ball straight into the path of BRANNON O’NEILL who tapped into an empty net to put Bridges one up.
The lead didn’t last long, as four minutes later East Grinstead found themselves level. A poor Grinstead ball was missed by everyone including the Bridges defence which left Nathan Simpson no choice but to pass back to goalkeeper James Shaw who found himself under immense pressure and failed to get his clearance off the floor. The ball was cushioned to Mitchell Chapman who took one touch and fired a sweet strike into the bottom corner leaving Shaw helpless.
The fixture got fierce in the 33rd minute after a Bridges penalty appeal was waved away and a Jensen Grant tackle infuriated East Grinstead which subsequently led to a 22 man riot. There could have easily been a minimum of three players sent off but the referee was sensible to just card the four main perpetrators instead. This really got the Grinstead team going and they took the lead two minutes into the additional time at the end of the first half. Poor defending from Bridges saw space open up for Grinstead and it was Mitchell Chapman who reacted quickest from a shot that crashed off the post and despite a combined effort from Simpson and Shaw the ball found its way into the back of the net.
Bridges didn’t lose their tempo and in the last minute of the added on time of the first half, they got the equaliser. John Ufuah found Toyo Adeshina on the overlap down the right flank who then chipped a lovely dinked pass into Joe Tennent who curled a lovely cushioned volley into the top corner – a true striker’s finish from the ex-Grinstead defender.
Bridges started the half as they ended it and it took only four minutes for them to take the lead. A corner was whipped in that was only half cleared and as the ball looped in the air it eventually fell to Tennent who fired at goal. His shot was cleared off the line but fell into the path of Antone Douglas who smashed the ball into an empty net to put Bridges 3-2 up.
However, just like the first half, Bridges failed to hold onto their lead and this time it took just 2 minutes for Grinstead to reply. A quick counter-attack saw Bridges left short at the back which left George Landais plenty of time to turn in a cross to level up the tie.
The game was flipped on its head in the 62nd minute when Adeshina dived into a challenge which was a definite yellow card but as he had unjustly been booked just 5 minutes before for supposedly obstructing a quick free kick, the referee had no choice but to give him his marching orders.
With Bridges having to reshuffle, putting Lee Hall from midfield into defence and leaving one up top, East Grinstead smelt blood and put lots of pressure onto Bridges meaning Bridges found it hard to make many clear cut chances for themselves, although George Gaskin nearly lobbed Daly from 40 yards but he recovered in time to tip over the bar. The time eventually came for Grinstead, however, as in the 83rd minute they took the lead. Gregory Cundle was allowed too much time and space down the left wing and after taking it past Lee Hall he squeezed it in from a ridiculous angle. This sparked major protests by the Bridges defence who claimed the ball had gone out for a goal kick before Cundle shot but the linesman had made up his mind and the goal stood.
It looked to be over for Bridges who were struggling in the late stages with 10 men. However, they got one last chance in the 93rd minute after a corner was won. O’Neill whipped the ball into a crowded penalty area which included James Shaw but Joe Tennent rose highest to thump his header home. A well-deserved point for Bridges on a tough afternoon at the GAC Stadium.
Report by Sam Gadsdon