1st lose to Haywards Heath Town 3-4
By Lorraine Bonner
Another added time goal, another 1 goal deficit
Bridges continue the search for their first win in 2019 after falling to a disappointing 3-4 loss at home to Haywards Heath Town.
Despite leading 3-1 early in the second half Bridges conceded the lead and fell to a last minute winner from Nathan Cooper after Shaw had saved a penalty moments before. A dramatic end to the game which was perhaps undeserved in the tough conditions.
It rained for 90 minutes at Jubilee Field which led to a sloppy start from both sides with neither side creating any convincing attacks in the first 10 minutes. The first real chance fell to Bridges after a good delivery was sent in by Alex Clarke perfectly to Connor French but he skewed his header wide.
This set the tone early on and Bridges had an even better chance to take the lead three minutes later. French twisted and turned in the box before scooping the ball into the feet of George Gaskin who had just the keeper to beat, but a heroic block from a Hayward’s Heath defender saw the ball bounce out for a corner with Bridges denied a certain goal.
This seemed to spur life into Haywards Heath and they started to make some chances of their own albeit nothing convincing enough to trouble Shaw in goal - that was until the 25th minute when Callum Saunders hit a dipping shot from 20 yards which bounced right in front of a diving Shaw who couldn’t do enough to tip it round the post and Heath took the lead against the run of play.
This didn’t put Bridges off and by the 36th minute they got a deserved equaliser. A great ball was delivered into the box and a good layoff from Gaskin saw Connor French free to side foot the ball into the top corner great goal.
This really got Bridges going and it took just six minutes to take the lead after a good switch of play by Joe Tennent and a delightful touch from Gaskin which enabled him to slide in Brannon O'Neill who took the shot early with the left foot from 20 yards and it curled in at the near post - an incredible finish to see Bridges take the lead into half time.
However, it was Haywards Heath who started the second half better and Shaw had to make a good save within the opening five minutes, But in the 57th minute Bridges added another goal to make it 3-1. A corner on the right wing was whipped in by O’Neill towards George Gaskin who took a touch and volleyed home at the near post with a very well taken goal.
A minute later however Heath won a free kick in an almost identical area and Alex Laing, the former Bridges winger, headed home at the near post. Laing was right in the thick of the action minutes later as Alex Clark was running down the wing and Laing chopped him down. Clark reacted badly and was sent off for his actions, leaving Bridges to try and hold on with ten men and 30 minutes on the clock.
In the 71st minute came a moment of pure madness when Haywards Heath received a free kick a few feet inside the Bridges half. Callum Saunders stood over it and attempted a shot at goal that looked to be sailing way over and wide but miraculously dipped into the bottom corner from almost the half way line - a truly incredible goal to level the score. Whether Saunders meant it only he will know but a truly spectacular goal nonetheless. Heath nearly took the lead in the 77th minute following a corner but a powerful Laing volley was cleared off the line by Nathan Simpson.
In the 88th minute Laing was forced off on a stretcher after Gaskin clipped him from behind - no malicious intent but Laing seemed in a lot of pain holding his knee. He was carried off the pitch to an applause from both sets of fans.
The referee indicated that 10 minutes will be played from the restart and both teams looked like they were going to settle for a draw. However in the 9th minute of added time Trevor McCreadie, another former Bridges player, went down very soft in the box facing away from goal but the referee deemed it enough to award the last minute penalty that looked to lose bridges the game. Saunders stepped over it with the chance to net his hat trick but Shaw got down well to save and the ball was cleared for a corner. All Bridges had to do was defend the corner to secure a point but Nathan Cooper leaped highest to head home in the last minute.
An unfortunate result for Bridges who deserved more and the game would have been a lot different with 11 men on the field.
Match Highlights can be seen at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hnUWxFfgLxw