Three Bridges U23 3-2 Burgess Hill Town U23
By Lorraine Bonner
Win for U23s
A huge game for the U23s saw them face Burgess Hill Town in the League. The two teams were separated by just one point in the League before this game with Burgess Hill in 4th with 10 points and Three Bridges in 7th with 9. A win for either side would be crucial in climbing up the table.
Three Bridges started the better side and created a few chances early on. Alex Laing, a regular first team player on a 3 match suspension, but eligible as an U23s, made his first appearance for the team this season and he got a chance after just 2 minutes after cutting in from the right but he could only fire at Mitchell Bromage in the Burgess Hill goal.
Three Bridges continued to apply heavy pressure and it paid off after 7 minutes, a long ball up field from the Bridges defence was flicked on by Josh Tuck towards his goalkeeper but the header lacked any power or direction and landed at the feet Kelvin Adjei who took a touch and coolly slotted underneath Bromage to give Bridges a 1-0 lead.
Adjei had the chance to make it 2-0 three minutes later after Laing and Mason Doughty linked up well. Doughty fizzed a ball into the box towards Adjei but the ball had just too much pace and he couldn’t quite direct a shot towards goal. Burgess Hill then got their most convincing attack of the game so far on 16 minutes after Tuck put a strong header towards Ellis Webster who took a lovely touch to take it between the two Three Bridges centre backs but John Keeler came out well to save with his feet. They should have had another chance in the 21st minute after Nathaniel Asiedu-Opoku was judged to have committed a foul whilst going up for a header but the ball had fallen to Deji Alabi who was in on goal. However, the referee had blown for a free kick much to the disgust of the Burgess Hill players.
Adjei is in fine form at the moment and he almost got his second of the game in the 24th minute. After picking the ball up on the left, he excellently skipped past two Burgess Hill defenders and unleashed a curling effort that was dipping more and more but crashed into the roof of the net. Laing then found himself with the ball after a throw in from which he took a touch to set it out of his feet and struck one at goal from 25 yards but Bromage did excellently to tip round the post - two fine efforts from range for Bridges.
It was then Burgess Hill’s turn to try from range in the last chance of the half after Emmanuel Agyeman picked the ball up from 25 yards and struck a low driven effort that smashed off the left post. This ended a thrilling half for both sides with Bridges just coming out on top with a 1-0 lead going into the interval.
Bridges made a substitute at half time with Shalom Coulibaly being replaced by Victor Naranjo, returning from injury. Naranjo almost made an instant impact from the bench after it looked like he was pushed to the ground just 3 minutes into the half but the referee didn’t see it and waved away the protests. Just like the first half, Bridges continued the early pressure and on 53 minutes got a second goal. Sam Gallagher played a lovely switch over to Kelvin Adjei who took a delightful touch to get it past Alabi and one other to set up a shooting opportunity which he took extremely well, firing the ball into the bottom corner for his and Bridges' second.
It then took a while for the game to get flowing again and the next real chance was when Doughty crossed the ball for Laing on 61 minutes but he couldn’t direct the header goalwards. Bridges then had another penalty shout in the 72nd minute after Laing was pulled down in the box but again nothing was given by the referee to the disgust of Laing.
Then came five minutes of total madness - from the 85th minute to the 90th, 3 goals were scored!! First, in the 80th, Burgess Hill won a free kick just outside the box and Emmanuel Agyeman stood over it and looked like he was going to smash the ball, but instead he placed it delightfully under a jumping wall to make it 2-1. In the 90th minute Sam Gallagher cut out a pass which fell to Keeler who picked the ball up but Burgess Hill’s furious protests of a back-pass were dismissed before Keeler hoofed the ball upfield for Laing who won the ball from Nathan Corniwh and squared it to Mason Doughty who passed it home with Burgess Hill left in confusion and anger.
The game had one final twist as Naranjo was judged to pushed Josh Short just inside the box and Emmanuel Agyeman dispatched the penalty into the top corner in the 91st minute. This gave Burgess Hill one last bit of hope but Bridges held on to secure a vital 3-2 win.
The U23s' next game is against Thamesmead town on Wednesday, 10th October at home in a 19:45 kick off.
Report by SAM GADSDON