Paulton Rovers 1 Bristol Manor Farm 3 : Before the match began, a minute’s silence was observed for Anthony Hughes, former chairperson of the Southern League.
Manor Farm arrived at Winterfield Road having gained just one point from their last four games. Rovers, without a game last week, are desperate for points as they try to pull away from the lower reaches of this league.
The game started under a leaden sky with both teams taking part in a bout of head tennis. But it was Farm who got the ball on the ground first and began to press. Carrying the ball out of defence, Paulton’s Dan Restorick, under pressure from Owen Brain, twisted his ankle badly on the turf, allowing Brain to stride away and fire a shot beyond Frankie Phillips in the Rovers’ goal to put the men from the Portway one up. Restorick was unable to continue and was replaced by David Slade.
Only another 10 minutes had passed when there was a misunderstanding between Farm defender Oliver Woodhouse and his goalie Sethan Locke. The alert Jamarni Langlais scored an equaliser as the ball was kicked against his legs by Locke and then rolled into an empty net.
Manor Farm had more control of the ball, without unduly troubling Phillips but in breakaways, Ed Butcher and Dan Cottle both saw shots cleared away, while the hardworking Martin Lenihan had a cross shot headed clear for a corner. Dan McBeam, Rovers’ best player in the first half, was linking well with Butcher and Cottle. One shot from McBeam drew a fantastic save from Locke, who dived full length to push the ball away. Then a terrific run from Paulton’s Sam Pashen was stopped only by a last - ditch challenge by Farm defender Aron Robbins.
In another breakaway, Langlais skilfully sidestepped two Farm defenders before crashing the ball against the foot of Locke’s lefthand post. But then the Bristol team’s more dominant play reaped a somewhat fortuitous reward. On the stroke of half time, Brain’s left flank free kick evaded everyone as it flew past Phillips to give the visitors, on the balance of play, a deserved lead.
The second half began with the visiting forwards, including ex-Rover Ben Bament, benefitting from their midfielders being allowed the time and space to turn. Paulton defenders were hard pressed to contain them. Chris Peck, restored to the Paulton midfield and Will Armstrong both made important interceptions and challenges. Shots from George Kellow and Bament were well saved by Phillips.
But then McBeam then seemed to suffer a similar injury to Restorick as he tried to beat a Farm defender and was replaced by Dave O’Hare, and Paulton lost some momentum.
However, the ever - willing Butcher, making yet another powerful left wing run, fired in an excellent cross which went unrewarded, while Pashen fired over the bar following a corner from Lenihan. Farm again enjoyed the majority of the play in this half, as Rovers’ profligacy in possession was again their downfall. Manor Farm’s superior speed and movement on and off the ball and rapid closing down of Paulton players, earned them this victory.
The men from the Portway made a rash of substitutions and made their victory secure as Bament beat Rovers’ captain Neil Martin to the ball and expertly slid the ball under the advancing Phillips for their third goal.
Rovers will need to show real togetherness and team spirit in the upcoming fixtures!
Paulton man of the match: Dan McBeam – strong wing play and a real threat, before his injury.
Tues 30/01 Wimbourne Town (H) 7:30pm kick off
Sat 03/02 Tavistock (A) 3:00pm kick off
Tues 06/02 Evesham United (A) 7:45 kick off
Fri 09/02 Westbury United (H) 7:30pm kick off
Mon 01/02 Hallen (A) 7:30pm kick off
Thurs 05/02 Odd Down (A) 7:30pm kick off
Ladies 1st team
Sun 04/02 SGS Olveston United (H) 2:00pm kick off
Sun 04/02 Yeovil Town (H) 2:00pm kick off
Sun 04/02 Highridge United (A) 2:00pm kick off