WITH leaders Freshford United in Junior Cup action and both of their closest challengers North Bradley and Westbury United Reserves missing out on a game when their fixture at Leighton Sports Centre was postponed due to a waterlogged pitch, the focus switched from the battle at the top of the Trowbridge Windows & Conservatories Trowbridge & District League Division One table to the one at the bottom featuring relegation-threatened sides Calne Eagles and Steeple Ashton.
Eagles broke a depressing losing sequence of games without scoring when they earned a hard fought 3-3 draw against their fellow strugglers.
The game was action-packed and had just about everything, including a long stoppage for an injury to Ashton midfielder Mark Reynolds, who dislocated his shoulder after making a sliding tackle on Calne’s pint-sized left back Matt Bowery.
Before the game Calne were hopeful that their new strike-partnership of new signing Kay Gleed and regular defender Lawrence Elliott would help turn around their dire form in front of goal.
And it certainly seemed to do the trick as they played some of their best attacking football for a very long time, which helped them race into a three-goal half-time lead.
Calne opened the scoring after only 10 minutes when lively winger Leigh Haines scored his first goal in competitive football with a rasping strike from a tight angle after Ashton’s defence had stopped playing because they believed the ball had gone out for a goal kick.
Five minutes later Haines then scored his second when he reacted quickest to bundle in Lawrence Elliott’s knock-down following a corner kick.
Despite their slow start Ashton started to get their passing game going and both Marc Sheppard and Kieran Stone were denied by smart saves from Calne keeper Andy Windsor.
However, it was Calne who raced into a commanding 3-0 lead after 32 minutes when Lawrence Elliott turned his man on the edge of the box and fired his shot past keeper Pete Andrews.
Despite the three-goal deficit both teams continued to carve out chances. Andy Windsor made a string of impressive saves to deny Ashton. At the other end Pete Andrews also made two very good saves to deny Kay Gleed and Russell Driver.
In the second half Steeple Ashton started to enjoy a lot more possession and could have equalised when Marc Sheppard went clean through on goal but the normally clinical striker put his effort wide of the post.
Nonetheless, Ashton did finally get on the score sheet after 60 minutes from the penalty spot after the ball had touched defender Roy Wenham’s hand after he had made a sliding block on Kieran Stone. From the resulting penalty Sheppard made no mistake.
This goal gave Ashton renewed hope and they started to sense that a comeback was possible. However, Calne continued to look dangerous on the counter attack and both Gleed and Elliott went close to restoring Calne’s three-goal lead.
After 75 minutes Ashton scored two quick-fire goals which ultimately earned them a well-deserved point. Firstly, Kieran Stone tapped the ball into the empty net after Andy Windsor had parried Sheppard’s shot. Then Damian Hateley scored from 10 yards out, to finish off a good team move.
Despite this setback Calne continued to battle and show a fighting spirit that had perhaps been lacking in previous matches.
With only seven minutes left on the clock the game was held up after Steeple Ashton midfielder Mark Reynolds dislocated his shoulder.
Paramedics arrived within 15 minutes, but it soon became clear that Reynolds was going to need lengthy treatment before he could be moved to an awaiting ambulance, so both teams took the decision to finish off the game on the neighbouring pitch at Beversbrook.
Despite the delay and change of pitch the final seven minutes the game continued to be as end-to end, as both teams created numerous good openings. However, the score remained 3-3, which was probably a fair reflection of the balance of play throughout the entire match.
Warminster Town Reserves 1 Bradford United 1
WITH both Warminster Town Reserves and Bradford United going into their mid table battle at Weymouth Street having just lost once in five matches, it was little surprise that the game ended with honours even as the teams shared the points following a 1-1 draw.
Bradford had the better of the first half and took a deserved lead on five minutes through Phil Little who stuck a delightful half-volley after being set up by Kegan Smart.
Warminster took a while to get going but despite their sluggish start they first the first half the better of the two sides but had nothing to show for their efforts despite Tyrone Powell going close on a couple of occasions.
The second half started as the first had began with Bradford on top, but once Warminster got into the ascendancy they fashioned a fortunate equaliser that saw the unfortunate Kegan Smart bundled the ball into his own net on 65 minutes and after that Warminster put their guests under the cosh without finding a killer second goal.
Having weathered the Warminster onslaught it was Bradford’s turn to hunt down a winner that saw Richie Bliha miss a sitter and Phil Little narrowly miss out on his second of the afternoon.
Both, Bliha and Powell saw good chances well saved by Warminster keeper Callum Hotine as the hosts held out for a deserved share of the spoils.
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