Bridgend 1st XI 3-2 Clifton Robinsons
Bridgend in resurgent form made the short trip over the bridge to Clifton, looking to maintain their winning streak and continue their ascent to safety. The game started at mediocre pace, with both teams tentatively testing their opponents. Michael Hodges had the game’s first opportunity as a delightful show of skill saw him bypass two defenders to create an opportunity to shoot, which unfortunately went wide of the target. Bridgend looked happiest in this game of attrition, with Robinsons having only one meaningful attack in the first half, a short corner easily snuffed out by Adrian Hibbert. The other end of the pitch saw Bridgend start to show some dominance over the game, Tim Hodges received the ball amongst a crowd of players, turning quickly he flicked the ball over a defenders stick and made his way into the ‘D’ and unleashed a fierce strike, which broke the backboard. Bridgend continued with more of the possession only having to quash some speculative counter attacks. Matthew Wooster began another run of Bridgend possession finding Tim Hodges again who drew a defender towards him freeing up Steve Murphy who beat the goal keeper from close range. This took Bridgend into the break at two goals up.
The second half saw a different Bridgend style emerge as the tentative attacks became very measured passages of controlled passing. The transfer of possession from right to left pivoting around Rhydian Cole and Tim Hodges in the middle saw Michael Hodges push forward down the right causing havoc for the defence. The constant threat of attack unfortunately worked against Bridgend as it forced Clifton to sit deeper not allowing Bridgend the room to generate meaningful chances. A change in tact saw Bridgend look to upgrade their opportunities to short corners, which Rhodri Owen came close to doing on two occasions only to be denied by misfortune rather than skill. Both wingers Paul Jones and Michael Hodges threatened continuously, the threat eventually becoming a short corner. Tim Hodges initial strike was stopped, with the rebound controlled by Rhys Owen who crossed the ball square to a waiting Tim Hodges who deflected the ball into the goal. The following few minutes saw a lapse in concentration for Bridgend who appeared to become complacent, the first threat saw Adrian Hibbert negate a one-on-one chance for Clifton, a save which would subsequently prove vital, as the home team then scored twice from short corners. Bridgend’s lead pegged back to only one, it was all hands to the defensive pump. However normal service was resumed with Kris Holyoake and Matthew Wooster intercepting threats, the latter toying with the opposition as he advanced half the pitch with the ball taking on four players effortlessly. Vital clean ups from John Woodward and Michael Hodges deep in the Bridgend defensive zone allowed Bridgend to retain possession and saw Paul Jones tune down the rest of the game time securing a victory for Bridgend.
Bridgend Ladies 2nds 1 – Cardiff & Met 5ths 3. Sadly it wasn’t to be for Bridgend in today’s cup tie as they came up against a strong Cardiff & Met team. Despite some strong defending the Cardiff team scored first and piled on the pressure at every available opportunity, Bridgend weren’t without their chances in the first half but once again failed to capitalise on them and it wasn’t too long before Cardiff & Met scored their second, going in to half time 2-0 up. Bridgend came out fighting in the second half and some lovely passes and long probing balls up the field helped Bridgend’s cause, resulting in some good pressure in the Cardiff D. It was during one of these periods of pressure that Player of the Match Jo Poupon passed a perfect ball for Emily Hopkins to hammer home. Bridgend were very much back in the game and the ball continued to go from end to end, but it was Cardiff & Met who had the final say with their 3rd goal late in the second half, by which time the Bridgend legs were tiring and it was just too much to come back from. Bridgend should be proud of their performance and never-say-die attitude.
Gwent ‘B’ 11 – 1 Bridgend Men’s ‘C’
June 25th 1876 was the start of it. 24 hours later and the combined might of the Lakota, Northern Cheyenne and Arapaho tribes had defeated the mighty US 7th cavalry, wiping out 5 of their 12 companies at the battle of the Little Big Horn and earning their dead general Custer infamy for the manner of the defeat. What is certain is that Custer never had a chance. Brilliant tribal leaders including Crazy Horse and Chief Gall, plotted the battle and had both overwhelming numbers and incredible fitness of their warriors on their side.
For ‘Little Big Horn’ read ‘Cwmbran Leisure Centre’ and the late afternoon of Saturday 23rd Feb 2019 as the setting for Bridgend’s plucky and brave warriors to be annihilated by a Gwent side featuring far too much talent and attacking threat.
Bridgend were again without their inspirational Captain Schofield, poached by the 2nd XI due to selection issues further up the club, and the combination of youth and experience remaining were no match for Gwent who featured a number of players with representative honours much higher up their club this season. It is for them to explain what this mismatch in selection achieves.
Despite the score, Bridgend (and their youngsters in particular) should be proud that they never gave up, continued to attempt tackles and even contrived to score a really excellent goal. Hats off, then, to Barnaby Milgate, Jack Hayes, Michael Wilks, James Tudball, Luke Davis and Steve Mansell, all under 16 and all to be respected for their efforts and pluck. The more experienced heads tried hard but skill levels, age and fitness were miles away for those demonstrated by their Gwent equivalents at least one of whom could be compared to a killer whale in a paddling pool rather than ‘big fish in little pool’.
There was no disgrace in defeat – far from it. All will have learnt that in everything we do in life, when we face our foes and do our absolute best we can always be proud, no matter what the outcome.
As for the dead General Custer, well his wife worked hard to burnish his memory and today he is acclaimed as an heroic figure. Mrs Wilks better get busy in the local press on behalf of your correspondent.