Toolstation Western League Premier Division

Buckland Athletic 2, Bridgwater Town 1

Despite the spectre of a 10.30am pitch inspection, a much earlier, pragmatic ‘it’s on’ call from our hosts meant that The Robins travelled to South Devon with optimism and supporters aplenty, writes Bob Buckingham.

Sterling work by Buckland’s ground staff ensured that the playing surface, whilst damp in parts, was conducive to flowing football and that was exactly what the spectators were treated to in a competitive, evenly matched encounter.

Town made an excellent start, knocking the ball around to good effect but without really troubling Kenny Griffiths in the home goal. 

The first chance of the game fell to Buckland when, following a deep corner, the ball was safely gathered by Jake Viney from a sharp volley. 

As the half progressed the home side began to gain an edge in midfield and on 23 minutes a misplaced pass by Tom Stone (who was otherwise excellent throughout) at the back almost resulted in the opening goal, but the midfielders’ weak attempt was comfortably saved. 

As might be expected, given their respective league positions – fifth and sixth - the remainder of the half was evenly balanced with only half chances being created and both custodians untroubled. 

With the half-time whistle imminent, a robust challenge by Josh White saw him harshly cautioned with many of the home side demanding that the referee take more severe action.  

The home side started the second period with the greatest urgency and it was just two minutes in when, to the surprise of many, the referee spotted an offence in the box and awarded a penalty which was duly despatched into the bottom right hand corner by Richard Groves to put the home side ahead.

Having fallen behind the Robins stepped up the intensity as, in the space of a few minutes, Ryan Burrows and Charlie White replaced Dave Pearse and Dave Thorne respectively to move the shape from 4-4-2 to 4-3-3. 

With just 12 minutes remaining, an excellent move saw Kurt Robinson joyfully slam home his first ever goal for the club. To both the captains’ and travelling supporters’ dismay, however, his effort was ruled out for offside.  

Undaunted by the disappointment of the disallowed goal, Town were now dominant. 

With the home defence in disarray, it was that man Robinson who drove down the left, crossed hard and low into the area where it was met by substitute Tom Llewellyn to level the scores with just three minutes remaining.  

To the credit of the home side they responded positively to conceding the equaliser and, with just a minute remaining, they forced a corner which was floated into the box and fell neatly to centre back Liam Head, who converted with relish from 12 yards to put his side ahead for the second time.

Town pushed forward in search of a second goal but were caught on the break, forcing Jake Viney to bring down the striker and, inevitably, be shown a straight red card. 

Syd Camper took over between the sticks and the resulting free kick came to nothing.

The game was a great advert for Western League football and a real credit to both teams. 

With teams around them suffering defeats, the Robins stay in sixth ahead of Monday night’s game at Melksham.

Bridgwater Town: Jake Viney, Dave Thorne (Charle White), Josh White, Tom Stone, Kurt Robinson, Harry Horton (Tom Llewellyn), Jack Jenkins, Mark Armstrong, Syd Camper, Dave Pearse (Ryan Burrows), Jack Taylor.