Toolstation Western League Premier Division

Bridgwater Town 1, Cribbs 1

A LAST-GASP Cribbs leveller denied 10-man Bridgwater Town the chance to move six points clear at the top of the Western League Premier Division on Friday night.

George Kellow's 90th-minute strike hit the post and deflected in off Town goalkeeper Jake Viney to cancel out Harry Horton's first-half opener in what was a gut-wrenching blow for a Robins side who played a man light for 55 minutes after Mark Armstrong's needless sending off.

The opening stages were devoid of chances as both sides struggled to keep possession on a slippery surface.

Jake Viney did well to deny Sol Wanjau-Smith on 10 minutes and Sam Towler came close for the hosts with a deflected effort which flew just wide.

The Robins were growing frustrated by their lacklustre start but the mood changed just after the half hour mark when Town took the lead.

A loose ball broke to Horton 22 yards out and the midfielder steadied himself before firing under the goalkeeper, who perhaps should have had it covered and will be disappointed to have let it slide underneath him.

Just three minutes later came the controversy. Cribbs' Greg Andrews flew into a late challenge, which brought him a booking and led to handbags. 

In the thick of it was Armstrong, who had earlier sparked a similar flashpoint after a firm but fair challenge on Sam Iles and this time threw the ball at Cribbs skipper Hodgson, hitting him in the head. Seemingly innocuous maybe, but foolish in the circumstances and enough to earn an early bath, leaving his side a man down for the remainder of the night.

The 10 men held their advantage until the break and it was they who initially looked the more likely to find the night's crucial second goal, Horton hitting the bar direct from a corner on 48 minutes.

Perhaps inevitably, Town dropped deeper as legs grew heavier and Cribbs began to exert pressure.

Kellow looked the biggest threat, forcing Viney into a sharp save before crashing a curling effort against the crossbar with 16 minutes to play.

Just as it looked as though the Robins had done enough, the winger saved his best until last, firing a shot from the edge of the box which hit the inside of the post before deflecting off the diving Viney and trickling over the line.

Cribbs' celebrations were more befitting of a 90th-minute winner in a World Cup final than a 90th-minute equaliser against a team who had played with 10 men for nearly an hour and it was tough on Town, who had battled admirably. 

Horton covered every blade of grass in midfield, Pearse worked like a trojan on his own up front and the back four were solid only to be hit by that late sucker punch.

Town do now have a four-point cushion at the league's summit, though that may be down to one by the end of tomorrow's matches.

The Friday night football experiment, meanwhile, can be considered a success - a crowd of 266 turned out to watch the hard-fought encounter.

Next up for the Robins is a double bill against Roman Glass - the first of those is a Les Phillips Cup clash at Fairfax Park on Tuesday night (7.45pm).

Bridgwater Town: Jake Viney, Dave Thorne, Kurt Robinson, Mark Armstrong, Tom Ellis, Lee Begg, Harry Horton, Sam Towler, Charlie White (Ian Bellinger 77), Dave Pearse (Patrick O'Halloran 88), Jake Brown.