Bridges survived onslaughts of two different kinds as they weathered storms from their hosts Bedfont and a 20-minute downpour to breeze into the next round of the FA Vase and a trip to Steyning Town.
Bedfont Sports 1
Three Bridges 2
By Alf Blackler
Bedfont missed a string of chances, starting with a bad miss by Matthew Riggs after only three minutes, but Bridges managed to adjust to the 3G pitch and a cross by Jay Conroy finished with Andy Somo’s shot being driven into the ground and bouncing over the bar.
Thunder and lightning accompanied the heavy rain as Bedfont, with left-back Julius Mngadi looking particularly dangerous, continued to make Bridges work hard in defence, and they were grateful when skipper Billy Jeffreys’ header was comfortably held by Kieron Thorp.
One of a string of strange refereeing decisions led to a penalty on the stroke of half-time, Conroy being deemed to have pushed an opponent as everyone seemed to be pushing and shoving as a corner came over.
Darryl Saunders coolly slotted from the spot and there wasn’t even time for Bridges to kick-off again.
With only occasional light rain to contend with by now, Bridges opened the second half looking more adventurous and a good run by T-Jay Johnson seemed to be baulked by a poor challenge, enough to earn a caution but not sufficient to even get a free-kick!
And confusion then reigned when Bridges were awarded an indirect free-kick in the box, Lee Hall’s original drive being blocked before he skied the retake.
Bedfont weren’t making the most of the open spaces left by Bridges as the visitors were forced to attack in numbers, and after 70 minutes a great run by Conroy finished with a low cross that was met by substitute Mitchell Casselman, whose first effort was blocked by ‘keeper Rouke Pickford before the follow up rocketed into the net for the equaliser.
Nathan Koo-Boothe saw a header from the excellent Hall’s corner crash against the bar six minutes later, but after 79 minutes Casselman’s through-ball found Connor French, who ignored the Bedfont offside appeals to finish in style.
Bridges then looked comfortable in defending their lead and finished with Nathan Hilaire firing just over as a third goal looked a possibility in the final seconds.
Bridges: Thorp, Conroy, Collins, Grant, Koo-Boothe (Peters 90), Crellin, Johnson (Casselman 65), Hall, French, Ashikodi, Somo (Hilaire 81).
Aerotron Man of the Match: Jamie Crellin