Three Bridges U23s 1-0 Sevenoaks Town Reserves
By Lorraine Bonner
Another win for Bridges U23s in their last pre-season fixture
Bridges’ U23s faced a strong Sevenoaks side in their final pre-season fixture and rode out as 1-0 winners on the night despite the extreme Sevenoaks pressure in the second half.
Just like the First Team have in several of their pre-season fixtures, the U23s scored very early on, this time taking just 2 minutes. The ball was played back to the Bridges keeper, Alfie Hadfield, who hoofed the ball up the pitch over the entire Sevenoaks back line, which left Mason Doughty and the Sevenoaks keeper in a 1-on-1 race to the ball. The keeper got there first but could only head the ball as he came out of his box leaving the ball at the feet of DAN DA COSTA E SILVA to volley home from the edge of the box.
Sevenoaks nearly got an instant response when their No. 7 was played through but he was denied with an excellent sliding tackle from Karel Tshibangu. Sevenoaks continued to press and nearly got a reward for their effort on 5 minutes when a curling shot looked destined for the top right corner but was denied by a great save from Hadfield. They got a similar chance on 11 minutes with an almost identical shot from the No. 3 but this time it curled round the post.
Bridges then began to pile on some pressure of their own with many corners in quick succession but all were well dealt with by the Sevenoaks defence. Sevenoaks looked dangerous on the counter and Bridges found themselves in trouble after a corner, when the Sevenoaks No. 9 was played through with an over the top ball, and found himself one on one with Hadfield. He tried a lob but was denied by Hadfield after coming out well to deny any chance of an equaliser.
Bridges had two penalty shouts in the first half, one falling on 22 minutes after Victor Naranjo looked to be tripped inside the box which was met with a few half-hearted appeals as the referee played on. However the more obvious looking appeal came on 32 minutes when Doughty was dancing through players in the box and was then taken out by a sliding tackle from a Sevenoaks defender. Furious appeals were waved away by the referee who saw nothing wrong with the tackle.
As this is likely to be the last pre-season game for both sides, it was a great opportunity to give all the players a run out and to give the managers an easier decision on who to pick when the season comes around next week. Sevenoaks took full advantage of this and made five substitutions towards the end of the half and Bridges made their own at half time, including a goalkeeper change, with John Keeler replacing Hadfield. However, they were forced to make one earlier than planned as Naranjo, who has enjoyed regular runouts with the first team during pre-season and has been given a squad number for them, went down with what looked like a groin problem on 43 minutes and was forced off.
Bridges came out the better side after the interval and looked to add another quick goal to double their lead. They nearly achieved this twice, first on 50 minutes after Doughty was played through but the keeper got there first to deny him, and then Doughty was played in again, this time by Brandon Green but just as he was about to release his shot, a Sevenoaks defender slid in with a heroic tackle to stop any danger of Bridges adding a second.
Keeler was quickly called into action, first denying a Sevenoaks header from a corner and then making an unbelievable save to deny No. 11 who hit a fierce strike heading for the top corner from the edge of the box in the 71st minute.
Sevenoaks continued to dominate with chances coming thick and fast and they so nearly got an equaliser on the 79th minute after No. 16 was played in and slotted under the onrushing Bridges keeper but the ball crashed against the post to Bridges’ relief. It was then Bridges’ turn to hit the post as Doughty picked up the ball inside the Sevenoaks box and smashed the ball against the woodwork to deny Bridges the goal which almost certainly would have secured the win.
There was still time for one last Sevenoaks attack after a mistake by the Bridges defence saw the Sevenoaks No. 11 through on goal but Keeler made a great save with his feet to secure the win for Bridges as they head into the new season unbeaten in their pre-season campaign.
They will now be at home in their first League fixture under new manager Oliver Saunders on Wednesday, 22nd August - 7:45 pm KO at Jubilee Field.
Match Report from Sam Gadsdon