Bridgwater United 2-0 Helston Athletic

IT wasn’t pretty but Bridgwater United managed to find the late goals needed to propel themselves beyond the challenge of the Cornishmen and the reward is the final of the Les Phillips Cup to be held at Wells City’s ground on May 14th, writes Mark Hollidge.

Helston have played 270 minutes against United this season and have drawn a blank in the goals column. United’s resolute defence again proved to be an immovable object and ensured that any goal or goals scored by the Robins would be decisive.

There were just three minutes of normal time left when United struck the first blow. A pinpoint inswinging corner from Jake Llewellyn was met with power, placement and poise by the forehead of the spring-heeled Ross Edwards. Nobody could stop it, nobody did.

Three minutes into time added on, United made the win certain. With the visitors reduced to ten men, Adnan Hiroli picked out Jack Taylor in space on the right. The pass was ideal and 36 goal Taylor ran forwards and lashed the ball across Mike Searle and inside the left post.

This exciting finale was a bit out of step with what had preceded it. The first eighty seven minutes were tough and tight but lacked a bit of creativity and star quality. A typical semi-final you might say. Both sides played their hearts out but the defences were definitely on top and clear chances to score were at a premium. A goalless draw had looked a safe bet.

Helston’s cause wasn’t helped by central defender Jordan Bentley having to leave the fray early on due to injury and it was hampered even more when brother Aaron got sent off immediately after the first goal because of what he said to the referee.

In the first half the best chance, after ten minutes, fell at the feet of Helston’s Tom Hands. The low right wing cross from Tyler Elliott was shanked wide by Hands when unmarked and only a few yards from goal. United’s best chance was a firm header by Jordan Greenwood which was pushed aside by Searle. The clever twisting and turning of Jake Brown ended with a low shot which was also repelled by Searle. It was Brown who looked the most likely to unlock a defence well led by Aaron Bentley.

The Robins’ Liam Kingston wasn’t called upon to make a save in the first half, so solid was the defensive cordon around him. At half time 0-0 was a fair score.

In the second half Helston did manage to pose more of an attacking threat. Soon after the interval Aaron Bentley’s header from a corner kick was saved by Kingston and something very similar happened from another Bentley header twenty minutes from time.

However the closest shave was after eighty four minutes when Shanley, one of the best performers, slung a low cross into the six yard box. The diving Kai Cornish must wonder how he failed to make contact. The slightest touch would have turned the ball into the net.

Three minutes later United scored and Helston were down to ten men. In spite of that Helston very nearly equalised with the clock going into added time. Shanley’s header from point blank range was brilliantly kept out by the perfectly positioned Kingston. Great save.

Almost immediately Taylor’s successful strike brought relief to the majority of the bumper crowd of 444 and thoughts could start to turn towards the challenge that Cadbury Heath will offer in the final.