Toolstation Western League
Premier Division
Bridgwater Town 2, Hallen 2

BRIDGWATER Town surrendered a 2-0 half-time lead at home to third-placed Hallen on Saturday, as two former Bridgwater players scored against their old club to snatch a point, writes Mark Hollidge.

Jake Brown and Owen Irish scored inside two first-half minutes to put the hosts in control, only for Sacha Tong to pull one back and Aron Robbins to level deep into stoppage time.

There was a very early chance for the visitors when Owen Irish, uncharacteristically, allowed a harmless-looking cross to evade his possession and Robbins blazed over from 15 yards.

After that Irish gave another commanding and effective performance, with the whole of the Robins defence looking very solid in the first half.

Young debutant goalkeeper Jake Hannam had hardly anything to do, as the home side dominated proceedings.

Sam Towler volleyed over and then, for the next quarter of an hour, the long throwing prowess of Tom Ellis took over.

As a result of these prodigious projectiles Town had the ball in the net three times, although only two counted.

When you consider that each of these throws was sent into a strong crosswind you wonder how he managed to get each one right into the six-yard box.

From the first one, the ball flicked off someone or other and crossed the line, but the referee decided that the keeper had been impeded.

It looked like Hallen had no answer to this tactic and the next throw brought the first goal, on 22 minutes.

The throw-in was unconvincingly only cleared, and Brown met the dropping ball with a resounding volley that flew into the net past a thicket of players.

Just two minutes later, Irish got in front of the worried keeper and flicked the ball past him with his head.

Hallen looked in trouble and tempers rose, but the hosts could not add what may have proved a killer third goal.

Brown got into a great position to shoot but an excellent tackle denied him, and Jack Taylor spun on the ball and shot millimetres wide of the right post.

Hallen lost Kyle Thomas, their most creative player, to an injury, but when the second half got underway it seemed like most of the fizz had escaped from the Robins’ bottle.

The visitors became more of an attacking threat and Town created little in the second period.

Hannam had to make his first save when Tong headed the ball down to Aaron Anglin, whose shot at the near post was pushed away for a corner.

Hallen were winning corners and some free-kicks but Town were still fairly comfortable.

From another long throw, Brown drove over the bar, but that was Town’s only chance in the second half.

Jordan Ricketts wasted a good chance when he spooned the ball way too high after Anglin had rolled the ball to him, but the visitors did make it 2-1 in the 65th minute.

A flighted ball was headed down to Tong, near the penalty spot, and his half-volley gave Hannam no chance.

Although they had most of the ball, Hallen weren’t doing much with it and it looked like the hosts would hold on for the win.

However, the referee played seven minutes of added time and in the fifth of these came the equaliser.

The ball was passed from the right and the unmarked Robbins had a simple job in turning the ball over the line from under the crossbar.

In the final analysis, Bridgwater didn’t do enough in a second half where they lacked creativity, and the two points dropped mean that they remain in seventh spot, failing to close the gap to sixth-placed Shepton Mallet.

Bridgwater Town: Jake Hannam, Dave Thorne, Jake Llewellyn, Mark Armstrong, Owen Irish, Tom Ellis, Harry Horton (Ollie Morris 88), Sam Towler, Jack Taylor, Jake Brown (Noah Coppin 77), Oscar Latas.

Robins co-manager Dave Pearse told the Mercury: “We were very good in the first half, but the second half was all them - a carbon copy of the first, just the other way.

“We were aggressive and in their face from the start [in the first half], and got the ball forward quickly.

“It was disappointing to drop two points; it sums up our season in a way, but the positive is that we’ve taken four points off Hallen this season.”

Next up for Bridgwater is a trip to Wells City in the quarter-finals of the Somerset Premier Cup tomorrow (Tuesday, 7.30pm).

The winner of that tie will be away to the winner of the Welton Rovers versus Yeovil Town match in the semi-finals.

Pearse added: “It’s a bit of local derby, they’ll be up for it and we want to get to the semi-final.

“A match against Yeovil would be fantastic for us.”

This coming Saturday brings another home league fixture for the Robins, this time against strugglers Chipping Sodbury Town, who are third from bottom (3pm).