Loxwood 1 Three Bridges 0: Late goal brings Bridges defeat
Missed chances cost Bridges dearly as Loxwood showed plenty of determination and finally grabbed a goal of their own with just seven minutes of normal time remaining.
A cautious start from both sides, both seemingly intent on long-ball tactics at this stage, led to excitement at both ends as firstly Joel Colbran struck the upright after 18 minutes and the ball swept to the other end where Mitch Casselman rattled the Loxwood woodwork with a blistering volley.
Kieron Thorp, playing his 100th League game for Bridges, made a great save from Alfie Gritt and Bridges’ former academy player Adrian Todd missed horribly, while in-between, the home side appealed in vain for a penalty as Michael Wood broke into the box.
At the other end, Connor French headed over from Casselman’s cross, Nathan Crabb fired just wide after breaking superbly and Jamie Crellin saw a header held as he met Liam Collins’ corner.
And towards the end of the first half, Thorp saved with his feet as Wood made another determined run.
But Thorp was rarely troubled after the break despite Loxwood still occasionally looking dangerous.
Sam Smith became the home hero as he blocked one-on-one chances that fell to John Lansdale (twice), Crabb, Casselman and the excellent Collins, while French came close twice and Crellin was also foiled twice in quick succession.
Jay Conroy also fired just over, Lansdale saw a fine effort deflected for a corner and Crellin saw a header cleared off the line by Tom Familton.
Familton, long admired by Bridges boss Paul Faili, looked dangerous with long throw-ins and was part of a resolute Loxwood backline with his busy skipper Eddie French.
But a goalless draw looked the likely outcome until a late free-kick was squirted across the goal and Jensen Grant’s header cleared only as far as Familton who blasted home from close-range off the underside of the bar.
Proof if ever it was needed that Bridges are going to find plenty of teams wanting to raise their game against them!
Bridges: Thorp, Collins, Whitehead, Lansdale, Conroy, Crellin, Casselman (Johnson 81), Grant, French, Hall, Crabb.
Unused subs: Odofin, Murtongerwa, Lombardo, Newman-Knott
Aerotron Man of the Match: Liam Collins