Toolstation Western League Premier Division

Bridgwater Town 2, Bitton 3

BRIDGWATER Town let a two-goal lead slip from their grasp as Bitton staged an excellent fightback to claim all three points at Fairfax Park.

In a cracking contest between two likely promotion contenders, Town netted twice inside the first 15 minutes but the visitors were level by half-time and Matt Groves' 77th-minute strike consigned Bridgwater to a first league defeat since the opening day of the season.

The tone for an action-packed first half was set just three minutes in when Karim Rendall's cross looped over Jake Viney and hit the top of the bar.

Buoyed by their let-off, Town went ahead four minutes later when a bouncing ball sat up perfectly for Harry Horton, whose half volley flew like a tracer bullet through the goalkeeper's hands and into the roof of the net. 

Town's advantage was doubled shortly afterwards after fine work by Jake Brown, who outmuscled a Bitton centre half before squaring for Steve Murray to slot into the empty net.

All was going swimmingly for the hosts at that point and but they received a reminder that the visitors were far from out of it when Rendall's free header flashed wide of the post.

Bitton did then halve the deficit when Aysa Corrick was first to the rebound after Mitch Tippins' 30-yard thunderbolt - which would have rivalled Horton's effort in a 'goal of the day' competition' - crashed off the crossbar.

The woodwork was then struck at the other end as Town went searching for a response.

Sam Towler picked out Brown with a pinpoint first-time pass and the winger shifted the ball on to his right foot before curling a fine shot towards the top corner, only to see it strike the bar.

The remainder of the half was dominated by the visitors, who would have levelled had Harrison Kyte shown a more composure when played through; instead, his wild effort flew over.

Another Tippins long-ranger forced Viney into a low save before Bitton deservedly equalised seven minutes before half-time, Rendall heading home from a corner after a near-post run went unnoticed by the home defence.

The same player then became the third player to hit the bar in the first half, Rendall unfortunate to see his 20-yard strike hit the upright, and Town were somewhat relieved to get to half-time at 2-2 - a situation which felt unthinkable after quarter of an hour.

The second half lacked the goalmouth action of the first and it began to feel as if the fifth goal of the game would be the pivotal one.

Bridgwater should have scored it with 20 minutes to play, Dave O'Hare sending a free header over from eight yards out, and Town were made to pay for their profligacy just seven minutes later as Bitton went in front.

The goal owed much to Corrick, who nutmegged Jamie Laird with a sublime piece of skill on the right-hand touchline before squaring the ball for Groves to drill expertly past Viney into the top corner.

Town co-manager Dave Pearse brought himself off the bench as Town looked for an equaliser but, in truth, Bitton looked the more likely to add to the scoresheet.

Kyte spurned two fine chances to make the points safe, denied by Viney twice within a minute late on, while Town - missing the suspended Jack Taylor up front - continued to huff and puff without creating a clear-cut opening.

Bridgwater will now look to bounce back at Westbury on Wednesday night in what is set to be another tough test.

Bridgwater Town: Jake Viney, Mark Armstrong, Jake Llewellyn (Jamie Laird 64), Harry Horton, Ross McErlain, Tom Ellis, Sam Towler, Dave O'Hare (Dave Thorne 80), Steve Murray, Jake Brown, Mike Duffy (Dave Pearse 86)