Haywards Heath Town 2 Three Bridges 0: Bridges fall to Karly Akehurst’s brace in thrilling local derby

Celebrations after the first goal. Haywards Heath Town v Three Bridges. Picture by Grahame Lehkyj SUS-180926-110442001
Celebrations after the first goal. Haywards Heath Town v Three Bridges. Picture by Grahame Lehkyj SUS-180926-110442001

Before this game Three Bridges and Haywards Heath Town F.C were separated by just 2 points. A win against a local side would prove crucial for either side. Haywards Heath came out on top with a 2-0 victory on the night after two goals in the first half set the tone for the remainder of the fixture.

In an exciting start to the game it was Haywards Heath who got the first chance after good work from Callum Saunders down the right wing saw him cut inside Nathan Simpson and shoot but the effort was tame and Giovanni Porciatti saved comfortably low to his left. Bridges then got their first chance 4 minutes into the game after Alex Laing done well to beat Sean Roddy on the left and put a delightful cross into the box Heath’s keeper Josh Heyburn got a touch on it which looked to see it out for a corner but the ball was kept and set back to Jensen Grant 5 yards out but Heyburn recovered well and saved Grant’s effort.

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Five minutes in Haywards Heath had a penalty shout after good play again by Callum Saunders, who had an excellent game for The Heath, found himself in a shooting position but Simpson slid in and did not look to win the ball the ball but the referee saw nothing wrong with the challenge and waved away the protests. Bridges then began to settle and created a few chances of their own. The first came after Laing forced a throw on the on the left wing the ball was then fed to Jensen Grant who slipped the ball into Connor French on the edge of the box who skilfully flicked the ball to Tyrone Berry on the edge of the box but Berry volleyed over the bar an excellent move by Bridges.

Seconds later Grant got himself involved again and disposed a Haywards Heath midfielder in his own half leaving the ball with striker Trevor McCreadie who had just one defender to beat but took the shot early and dragged it wide of the target. Bridges best chance of the half and game fell on 15 minutes after McCreadie won a free kick in a good position after being pushed while going up for a header. Lee Hall stood over the free-kick and delivered a lovely ball into the box and a mix-up with two Heath defenders saw the ball land at the feet of French who hit a powerful volley but somehow Josh Heyburn got a leg to it to deny bridges taking the lead.

It was then Haywards Heath’s turn to put on the pressure and it paid off in the 21st minute after the ball was launched up to target man Melford Simpson who took a great touch and fired a low shot that was excellently saved by Porciatti but Karly Akehurst reacted fasted and put in the rebound despite Porciatti’s best efforts.

Bridges had a chance of an almost instant comeback after Laing played in McCreadie who was blocked of by a Haywards Heath defender. The referee gave a free-kick much to the disgust of McCreadie who believed he was fouled inside the box but the referee had made his decision and a free-kick was given.

It was a good move from Bridges as Laing played a smart ball to the edge of the box where Tyrone Berry was waiting who saw his first time shot just fly past the post.

Hayward’s Heath made it 2-0 in the 31st minute after Callum Saunders won the ball of Laing in his own half and made a darting run before switching the ball to Max Miller whose shot was spilled for a corner by Porciatti. Saunders whipped the corner in with pace and Akehurst rose highest to head home for his second of the game and give Haywards heath a two goal advantage. This settled the fixture and the only other noticeable event of the first half was Haywards Heath captain Naim Rouane being forced off with an injury to his Achilles. Rouane seemed to know it was bad from the moment he hit the deck. He was clapped of by both sets of supporters and was later seen on crutches cheering on his side. He was replaced by Kieran Rowe in the 45th minute.

The second half was hardly a spectacle for either side both failed to make many clear cut chances. Following Liam Collins getting booked for handball the only action in the first ten minutes of the half was a shot from Laing that was well blocked well by a Haywards Heath defender. Heath were almost handed a goal in the 59th minute after poor distribution from Porciatti, the ball fell too Miller but he could only drag his shot wide. They should have had that third in the 68th minute after Callum Saunders fired his shot into the side netting after a good run down the right side. Bridges played into the hands of Haywards Heath in the second half and they could only create one clearer cut chance in the 90th minute but Joe Tennet could only head over from a corner.

Bridges continue their league run at home this Saturday in another local derby this time facing East Grinstead in a 3pm kick-off at Jubilee Field.

Bridges: Porciatti, Simpson, Hall, Crellin, Collins (Peters 80), Grant, French, McCreadie, Berry (Folkes 70), Laing (Taylor 70), Tennent.

Attendance: 108

Man of the Match: Jensen Grant