Saunders' men are disappointing as Bridges take the points

Shaun Sanders
Shaun Sanders

Haywards Heath Town's lead at the top of the SCFL again closed in as 10-man Three Bridges took the points at Hanbury and Horsham YMCA won away at Eastbourne Town.

Heath started the game brightly with Jack Langford seeing a well hit shot blocked and the resulting corner Tom Gravesheaded just past the post but it was Bridges that opened the scoring with their first real attack on nine minutes.

A shot across goal was kept in play then the ball back into the middle found Brannon O’Neill, Heath didn’t shut the space and the midfielder hit a great strike from 25 yards into the corner to give the visitors the lead.

As the rain fell condition became increasingly difficult for both sets of player as tackles came in from both sides the Bridges number five was the first name in the referees note book. Heath kept looking for a way back into the game but Karly Akehurst strike was straight at Kieron Thorp and Jamie Weston couldn’t direct his header on target.

With 31 minutes played the first real flash point of the game reared up, goal scorer Brannon O’Neill was late into a tackle and the referee adjudged it to be a straight red meaning the visitors would play the remaining 60 minutes of the game with 10 men, The Three Bridges manager was that incensed that his comments saw him removed to the stands.

Jamie Cradock collected Heath’s first yellow card of the game after a mistimed challenge out on the Heath left. Bridges who had been forced into an early substitution after 20 minutes saw Ben Bacon make his return to Hanbury and he almost doubled the visitors when his strike from eight yards out on 41 minutes fizzed just past the post.

As half time approached a good cross field ball was well controlled by Alex Laing and as he cut in he was taken down, the resulting free kick was taken by Alex Laing and was heading for the top corner but a fine save from Thorp saw the visitors take a 1-0 lead into the break.

Heath started the second half on the front foot but for all the possession they couldn’t find a way past a stubborn Bridges back line, On 50 minutes George Gaskin broke free for the visitors and but for a fantastic save from Simon Lehkyj the game would have had its second goal of the game. The resulting corner did however in somewhat unusual circumstances, a low whipped in ball evaded everyone including Joel Daly on the post and ended up in the back of the net.

Heath looked to respond but Alex Laing’s strike was straight at the keeper. With 58 minutes played it was all but game over, Heath conceded a free kick on their right and the ball in found a Nathan Crabb unmarked to head past Simon Lehkyj.

Heath introduced Naim Rouane for George Hayward and Callum Saunders for Joel Daly on 62 minutes to give some fresh legs on an increasingly heavy surface.

With 64 minutes played the home fans finally had something to cheer as Heath got on the score sheet, Karly Akehurst hit a fine strike from 20 yards out that beat the keeper and cannoned off the underside of the bar, Jack Langford was the first to react as he slotted home his 3rd goal for the club.

As the game entered the final 20 minutes Bailie Rogers replaced Jamie Cradock on the left, Simon Lehkyj held on well to two Three bridges efforts from distance and a mix up almost gave George Gaskin a tap in but Simon Lehkyj was alert and smothered the ball. At the other end Naim Rouane saw an effort from the edge of the box straight into the stomach of the keeper and Jack Langford found some space but a fine last ditch tackle came in just as he was about to shoot.

As the game entered injury time a Heath free kick in to the Bridges box was headed clear by the skipper but also his forearm catching Jamie Weston in the back of the head accidentally, the referee however despite of a head injury to Weston allowed play to continue and Bridges broke fast through Ben Bacon and he rounded the out coming Simon Lehkyj to finish the game off.