Bridgend 1st XI 4-3 Swansea
Following a narrow defeat last week, Bridgend slumped to the bottom of the table. Facing the current league leaders was going to be quite the challenge for the Ravens. Bridgend were solid in the first 10 minutes with Matt Wooster organising his defence strategically to counter Swansea’s game plan. Some early forays forward by Tim Hodges showed Bridgend’s intent to not let league position concern them. Despite this Bridgend were unfortunately first to concede, as a miss hit strike made it’s way into the goal. This was followed by a dubious penalty stroke for Swansea and a third well constructed effort also, it seemed Bridgend were in an all too familiar position against this foe. That was until septogenarian Steve Murphy envigorated by the challenge took on a player 1/3 of his age and made space to the club’s most prolific goal scorer Rhodri Owen, who unleashed a thunderous strike into the bottom left of the goal.
A 3-1 half time scoreline gave Bridgend a glimmer of hope. The second half saw Matt Wooster and Rob Evans throw themselves into a number of perfectly timed match saving tackles, the whole team were lifted by this and rose to the occasion. Paul Jones stampede forward, playing in Tim Hodges, who’s brother Michael was bundled to the floor in the ‘D’ earning Bridgend a penalty stroke, which was calmly dispatched by the former Hodges. The scoreline tight, the entire Bridgend squad lifted themselves, Tom Pearce being the key figure to change the game, a blistering run down the left latching onto a perfect Kris Holyoake pass allowed him to cross to Tim Hodges, who is never shy of scoring, thus tying the game up. Both teams vied for the winner at this stage, with either team looking likely, Swansea could not get past Captain Adrian Hibbert in Bridgend’s goal, who pulled off three spectacular saves within moments of each other frustrating Swansea no end. The moment of truth came as Bridgend won a short corner, which Tim Hodges flicked low and left straight past the keeper earning the victory for Bridgend. A huge victory for the Ravens and an incredible performance all round.
Cup Quarter Final match: Bridgend Ladies 2’s 1 – Rhondda Ladies 0
Bridgend ladies had a point to prove in this cup fixture as the league result between them before Christmas hadn’t been a fair reflection of Bridgend’s dominance and so it almost proved again today as once again the scoreline flattered Rhondda. Bridgend had the majority if territory and possession in the first half but failed to convert their chances, while at the other end of the pitch Rhondda didn’t manage a single shot and rarely troubled the Bridgend defence. The half time score was 0-0 and as the second half progressed it looked increasingly likely that this would be the final score as, despite several short corners and chances the Rhondda defence somehow managed to scramble the ball to safety each time. As time ticked towards the final quarter of the match and most people’s thoughts had turned to the likelyhood of the game being decided by penalty flicks, a decisive move from the Bridgend midfield combined well with the forwards and Eve Mordecai struck the ball sweetly into the net to score. Running down the clock and keeping possession then became Bridgend’s priority and this they did successfully. Huge smiles and sighs of relief ensued as the final whistle blew. Charlie Morris was named player of the match and the team are now looking forward to finding out who their opponents will be for the semi-final on the 23rd Feb. An excellent result
Bridgend B 5 – 4 Whitchurch B
After a tough defeat the week before to a young Swansea F team, Bridgend were looking to rebound and get their first three points of 2019.
The first half was very competitive with Ross Allen scoring a delightful chip over the Whitchurch keeper to put Bridgend in front but Whitchurch were more clinical as the teams went into half time at 3-1 to Whitchurch.
The second half started with Whitchurch on the front foot as they drove forward at a strong defence in Taron Moss, Denver Beer, Jeremy Ingram and in goal Dan Leyshon. Whitchurch evemtually broke this defence and went 4-1 up. This was the make or break moment for Bridgend. In a time where they could have let their heads drop and just try and hold off the Whitchurch attack, Bridgend decided that they would fight until the final whistle. With some great passes from midfielders Brett Leeming, Tomos Hopkins, Gavin Pound, David Collinson and Luke Davis, Bridgend found the breakthrough with goals from Gavin Pound (2), Ross Allen (2) and Andy Davis (1), to reply back from an almost impossible position to win the game 5-4. This was Bridgend’s greatest win of the year as it took some real grit from all players to claw all three points from this game. Bridgend now look forward to next week with another big clash against Neath A.
Bridgend ‘C’ 3 – 3 Whitchurch ‘G’
It was after the 7th move, following a black error caused by mixing up the Caro-Kann defence, that white struck decisively, sacrificing a knight to lead black into a hopeless position from which it could not recover and forcing the concession. The world of chess would never be the same again as world champion Gary Kasparov had just been defeated by IBM’s Deep Blue computer.
In the late 1800s, there was the great chess player (some say the greatest ever), called Paul Morphy, who had the habit of only looking up from the chess table when his opponent could not win. At that moment he would gradually raise his head and simply gaze at the man across the board. He in turn would feel the great man’s gaze, lift his own head and humbly raise his eyes to meet Morphy’s. At that moment he knew that there was no point in continuing. The eyes of Morphy said so.
And so it was that Whitchurch G arrived at fortress Pencoed to do battle with the mighty Bridgend C, a blend of youth and experience that promised Deep Blue and Morphy combined.
But Bridgend’s Deep Blue had what one might term a bug. Moves did not possess any symmetry or grace. The normal Bridgend passing game failed to flow with any consistency and this led to a dis-jointed, fractured game that frustrated both teams.
Bridgend took the lead in the first half through a smart move when your correspondent plucked a Whitchurch aerial pass from the sky, passed to the hard working Hayes, who in turn found the predatory Steer. His rasping shot into the bottom corner gave the keeper zero chance.
Whitchurch then levelled through the always dangerous Mathew Rapson before both sides endured a dull period of play as simple passes weren’t made, runs were not endeavoured and little coordination took place. The capacity crowd began to murmur its displeasure and reach for the Murray mints.
Half time brought a collective reassessment from the Bridgend team which brought instant dividends as the ever industrious Allen found Hayes who lasered a pass to Catton for him to convert. Bridgend then repeated the trick as a pass from the effervescent Wilks was worked again to Catton for another goal.
One might have thought that, were this a game of chess involving the great Morphy, that his head may have started to rise at this point, but it wasn’t to be. His eyes would instead have begun to bulge and be drawn closer to the board, accompanied by a headline of perspiration and, probably, muttered cursing under the breath. Yup, Bridgend promptly conceded 2 excellent Whitchurch goals, principally due to what could best be described as charitable tackling and that was that – honours even.
Neither Deep Blue nor Morphy would have enjoyed this one very much and Bridgend will need to improve their passing, tackling and teamwork in the coming weeks – or the Ravens will be contemplating toppling their king in concession.