Three Bridges 3 Haywards Heath 4: Last minute strike costs ten-man Bridges defeat in seven-goal thriller

Three Bridges' George Gaskin who scored their third goal against Haywards Heath.'Picture by Dave Burt (
Three Bridges' George Gaskin who scored their third goal against Haywards Heath.'Picture by Dave Burt (

Bridges continue the search for their first win in 2019 after falling to a disappointing 4-3 loss at home to Haywards Heath.

Despite leading 3-1 early in the second half, Bridges conceded the lead and fell to a last minute winner from Nathan Cooper after 'keeper James Shaw had saved a penalty moments before.

It was a dramatic end to the game which was perhaps undeserved in the tough conditions.

It rained for 90 minutes at Jubilee Field which led to a sloppy start from both sides with neither side creating any convincing attacks in the first ten minutes.

The first real chance fell to Bridges after a perfect delivery by Alex Clarke to Connor French but he skewed his header wide.

Bridges had an even better chance to take the lead three minutes later when French scooped the ball towards George Gaskin who just had the 'keeper to beat but a heroic block from a defender.

This seemed to spur life into Heath and they started to make some chances of their own but there was nothing convincing troubling Shaw in goal.

That was until the 25th minute when Callum Saunders hit a dipping shot from 20 yards which bounced right in front of a diving Shaw and he couldn’t do enough to tip it round the post and Heath took the lead against the run of play.

This didn’t put Bridges off and by the 36th minute they got a deserved equaliser.

A good ball was delivered into the box and a good lay-off from Gaskin saw Connor French free to side-foot the ball into the top corner great goal.
This really got Bridges going and it took just six minutes to take the lead.

A good switch of play by Joe Tennant and a delightful touch from Gaskin which enabled him to slide in Brannon O’Neill, who took the shot early with the left foot from 20 yards and it curled in at the near post.

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However it was Heath who started the second half better and Shaw had to make a good save within the opening five minutes.

But in the 57th minute Bridges added another goal and made it 3-1. A corner on the right wing was whipped in by O’Neill towards Gaskin who volleyed home at the near post.

A minute later however Heath won a free-kick in an almost identical area and former Bridges winger Alex Laing headed home at the near post. Laing was right in the thick of the action minutes later as Alex Clarke was running down the wing Laing chopped Clarke down.

Clarke reacted badly and was sent-off for his actions leaving Bridges to try and hold on with ten men.

Heath equalised with a miraculous free-kick which dipped into the bottom corner from almost the halfway line.

Whether Saunders meant it only he will know but it was a truly spectacular goal.

Heath nearly took the lead in the 77th minute following a corner but a powerful Laing volley was cleared off the line by Nathan Simpson.

In the 88th minute Laing was forced off on a stretcher after Gaskin clipped him from behind no malicious intent but Laing seemed in a lot of pain holding his knee.

He was carried off the pitch to an applause from both sets of fans.

The referee indicated that 10 minutes will be played from the restart and both teams looked like they were going to settle for a win.

However in the ninth minute of added time Trevor McCreadie another former Bridges player went down very soft in the box facing away from goal but the referee deemed it enough to award the last minute penalty.

Saunders stepped over it with the chance to net his hat-trick but it was a poor penalty and Shaw got down well to save and the ball was cleared for a corner.

All Bridges had to do was defend the corner to secure a point but Nathan Cooper leaped highest to head home in the last minute.
Bridges face Sittingbourne at home on Saturday, February 9 at Jubilee Field.

Bridges: Shaw, Simpson, Hall, Grant, French (Ufuah 71), O’Neill, Akanbi, Clark, Gaskin (McKenzie 90), Douglas, Tennant
Unused subs: Collins, Atubrah

Heath: Heyburn, Roddy, Robinson, Louis, Cooper, Spinks, Saunders, Rouaine, Simpson (McCreadie 72), Dalhouse, Lain (Bangura 88)
Unused subs: Folkes, Gray-Branford, Caidan
Attendance: 92
Man of the Match: Lee Hall