Toolstation Western League: Helston Athletic 5-1 Bridgwater United

BRIDGWATER United travelled to Kellaway Park hoping to secure a third win against Cornish opposition in as many weeks and maintain their very positive start to their 2023-24 campaign, writes Bob Buckingham. 

Those aspirations took an early knock as, in their first meaningful attack, Helston were awarded a penalty for handball  converted with aplomb by Jordan Copp. 

This was certainly not the start that was needed against one of just a handful of sides still unbeaten.

However, the travelling support were soon encouraged as United poured forward in search of an early equaliser with Jake Llewellyn firing a free kick narrowly over the bar. 

Minutes later, a trademark overlapping run from Dave Thorne saw him upended in the box. To the surprise of most, claims for a penalty were waved away.

Undeterred, the visitors maintained their dominance of midfield as Tom Llewellyn’s deep free kick which evaded everyone, struck the upright and was scrambled clear by a now beleaguered home defence. 

More pressure from The Robins saw Josh Philips, selected in an unfamiliar attacking role in the absence of Jack Taylor and Adam Wright, shoot narrowly over after great work by the ever elusive Jack Thorne. 

United’s relentless pressure was finally rewarded as Dave Thorne was again brought down in the box, this time getting the deserved decision. 

Jake Llewellyn’s spot kick was well saved at full stretch by the excellent and very busy, Kyle Moore.

United continued to press forward determined to secure the goal that would see them reach the interval at least level, and it was the cool-headed George King who delivered, smashing the ball past Moore from close range. 

Helston were quick to respond as they forced a corner with a close range header going narrowly wide of the upright. 

Unfortunately, this warning went unheeded as a floated cross from Copp in time added on was headed home by Rubin Wilson to give the hosts a somewhat unjust advantage. 

The start of the second period saw the visitors look to push on and reassert their superiority in midfield. The Blues clearly had similar ambitions and it was an unmarked Wilson with any easy  header who doubled the home side’s advantage eight minutes into the half.

Things worsened for United as Harry Horton’s hooked clearance was deemed to have made contact with a Helston head giving Copp the opportunity to drive home his second penalty of the afternoon.

Tom Llewellyn was sin binned for his protests and will pick up a personal and club sanction as a consequence. 

Several long clearances to substitute Rikki Shepherd saw him spurn further opportunities to add to the score line before he made it five in controversial circumstances.

Another long ball left Saunders stranded. Shepherd’s attempt looked to have been cleared from the goal line by the fast covering Jacob Spence,  but was confirmed to have crossed the line by the Assistant Referee at many yards distance.

By all measures, this was certainly a disappointing day for United, particularly after the promise in the early games. 

An immediate opportunity to redress matters presents itself when Welton Rovers visit Fairfax Park this upcoming Tuesday. KO 1945.