Bristol Manor Farm 0   Melksham Town 1

Melksham just about edged this closely fought affair at The Creek, played in swirling, stormy conditions. With results elsewhere going their way, the win lifts the Wiltshire side into fifth place in the table and a promotion play-off spot.

Richard Fey’s team were made to battle hard for their three points, however, with Manor Farm pushing them all the way in pursuit of a share of them.

Farm had a good opportunity to open the scoring within the games first five minutes but Lewis Leigh-Gilchrist hit a centrally-positioned free-kick just over the bar from 22 yards.

With quarter of an hour played Farm keeper Ben John had to punch a corner out from under his own crossbar as the wind played havoc with the ball.

Melksham’s Albert Hopkins then hit a free kick of his own over John’s crossbar as the visitors pressed strongly for an opener. Their pressure told when just past the half-hour mark in a move played from right to left and back into the centre again, full-back Joseph Romanski was tee’d up nicely to pick his spot past John from the edge of the penalty area.

Farm defended well in the opening quarter of the second half with Ben John called upon to save well in the 51st and 66th minute respectively. Melksham’s Matt Hurley then blasted a good shot just over the bar in the 73rd minute. Manor Farm finished the game strongly but despite some good approach play could not supply the required finish to salvage a point from the game.

STAR MAN (Jake Mawford, Melksham Town)


Bristol Manor Farm 0  Highworth Town 0

A swirling wind blowing through The Creek made for difficult playing conditions for both sets of players in a game high in endeavour but sadly low in quality.

The game was ten minutes old when Jordan Metters played a nice one-two with Alan Griffin but his cross was blocked.  Neither ‘keeper was properly tested during the games opening half hour as both sides tried to settle down.

A dangerous Highworth move ten minutes before half-time, breaking left to right, found them with a man over in the box but Edjidja Mbunga shot wide.

Manor Farm played some nice football in the second half but couldn’t find the required finish. Lewis Leigh-Gilchrist had a good shot just over and Elis Watts stabbed at a close range effort which was saved well by Connor Johns.

Jacob Davidge shot narrowly wide for the visitors after driving strongly at the Farm back four.

Manor Farm sub Olly Mehew came close to scoring with his first touch  but again Johns saved well.

With time running out Farm keeper Ben John came out to collect a dangerous, bouncing ball on the edge of his area. Farm had a great opportunity to seal all three points in the 90th minute when Mehew went on a run deep into the Highworth box before crossing into the middle but Griffin just couldn’t quite direct his header downwards – the ball sailing inches over the crossbar to nestle on the roof of the net instead.

STAR MAN (Steve Kingdon, Bristol Manor Farm) 

Thatcham Town 1 Bristol Manor Farm 2

Bristol Manor Farm handed league leaders Thatcham just their third defeat of the season with a battling display at a windswept Stacatruc Stadium on Saturday.

With the wind at their backs the home side were happy to launch a series of long balls towards the Manor Farm goal and one such attempt from just over the halfway line almost broke the deadlock just past the half hour mark. A back-pedalling Ben John in goal however was relieved to see the speculative effort sail narrowly wide and over.

Manor Farm had come close to scoring themselves in the 12th minute but Lewis Leigh-Gilchrist’s close-range shot from a set-up by Alan Griffin  was hit into the ground allowing Archie Matthews in goal to gratefully smother it.

Just over ten minutes later a back stick header from a corner by Thatcham full- back Matthew Partridge went wide and shortly after that John had to make a good stop, gathering well from two bouncing headers in the box.

Just before the break a great defensive header away by Manor Farm full-back Stuart Tovey ensured his side went in on equal terms.

Four minutes into the second half young Elis Watts almost scored on his full Farm debut, cutting inside from the right flank to hit a strong drive that was pushed away by Matthews.

Manor Farm took the lead in the 51st minute from a long throw-in into the box which was flicked on by Griffin for Watts, whose blocked shot fell kindly to Jordan Metters who gleefully rammed the ball home past Matthews.

Ben John then spread himself well to block out an effort by the ever-lively Kyle Tooze and on the hour made a smart save from a Felipe Barcelos effort from just inside the penalty area.

Farm proved they were good value for their lead however as they continued to threaten doubling their lead. Watts went on a skilful mazy run in the 66th minute, deep into the Thatcham box and his blocked shot fell to Leigh-Gilchrist who volleyed well only to find Matthews the equal to it. Minutes later John made a great save to palm away a dangerous cross with the general play stretching the game by the minute.

With six minutes left to play a Thatcham free kick from a deep central position by skipper Matt Day led to a mighty goalmouth scramble which after hitting the post was manfully defended collectively by the Farm rearguard with any number of able bodies thrown in front of each desperate lunge goalwards by Thatcham until the ball was gratefully hacked clear of danger.

With the game in the 91st minute and Manor Farm clinging gamely to their lead, Ben John put the visitors into an unassailable two-nil lead – treating the 182 spectators to a sighting of that rarest of footballing items, a score direct from a drop-kick. Credit is due to Farm substitute Olly Mehew who made just enough of a nuisance of himself to disrupt the communication between Matthews and Zak Westlake as John’s long clearance bounced down on the edge of the opposition penalty area. With centre-half and ‘keeper both missing the ball entirely, Mehew and the visiting fans could hardly contain their glee as the ball bobbled forward and over the goal line.

A late penalty-kick conversion in the 94th minute by Tooze halved the deficit but proved too little too late for The Kingfishers who face second-placed Frome Town on Tuesday.

This was as stirring a league victory for Manor Farm and their fans as they’ve enjoyed all season long and gives them some good front-foot momentum to take into Tuesday night’s visit to Sholing.

STAR MAN (Ben John, Bristol Manor Farm)

AFC Totton 1 Bristol Manor Farm 0

Manor Farm can count themselves truly unlucky not to have come away with anything after a fine, battling performance at the Snows Stadium.

The visitor’s dominated play in the first half with Alan Griffin and Cory Simpson (newly re-signed from Larkhall Athletic) providing a real handful for the Totton back four. For all of their incisive play up front however, The Farm couldn’t find a finish to the many chances they created and were made to pay when against the run of play Totton went in front just five minutes before half-time. Ollie Bradley was the man over in a quick right-to-left break for the Stags, giving him time to sweep a firm shot over Ben John from just outside the box.

Bouyed by their lead, Totton definitely improved in the second half but the better chances still fell to the visitors. In a blitzkrieg finish to the game Manor Farm piled on the pressure in search of an equaliser and when Griffin got onto to the end of a dangerous free-kick to poke the ball home the visiting Farmy Army went wild with delight and relief. Their joy was short-lived however as the linesman raised a flag for what must have been the most marginal of offside calls as a dozen or more players from either team, converged as one on the ball. 

Cinderford Town 5 Bristol Manor Farm 1

When Farm left-back Mason Winter’s ‘goal of the season’ contender opened the scoring with the game barely five minutes old, it appeared that The Portwaymen were well set to finally lay their winless ‘Causeway’ hoodoo to rest. Even at 2-1 down late into the first half this was a tightly contested game that could have gone either way, with both sides moving the ball well and always looking to get on the front foot, which made for an entertaining spectacle for the crowd and an intriguing prospect in store for the second half. The complexion of the game was altered radically however on the very stroke of half-time when Josh Hunt’s back-stick header put the home side 3-1 up at the break. It was a blow from which the visitors never fully recovered as Cinderford piled on the pressure with a confident second half display and when Hunt secured his hat-trick to make the score 4-1 in the 53rd minute, the game was all but up. The visitors briefly threatened late in the game through the introduction of Olly Mehew and debut loanee Elis Watts, but an 83rd minute penalty, converted by substitute James Harding completed the scoring to leave Manor Farm’s Causeway hoodoo very much intact.

At the final whistle there was no doubt that the better team had won and Farm were left to rue ‘what might have been’ – especially after Winter had started the night with a such a bang.  Picking up a loose ball in the left-back position, he drove forward over the halfway line, moving inside at pace to play a neat one-two with Ashley Kington before advancing on goalkeeper Andy Hannah. Getting his shot off early, Winter deceived the oncoming ‘keeper with a sweet-as-you-like strike from all of 30 yards – partly a powerful half-volley and partly an ‘exquisite chip’ – that swept over Hannah’s head and into the roof of the net. Would that the evening had continued in a similar vein.

STAR MAN (Josh Hunt, Cinderford Town)

Bristol Manor Farm 2 Bideford 1

There were huge cheers for the home side at the end of this tight, scrappy affair as Bristol Manor Farm earned their first victory of 2020.

Farm almost took the lead in the 9th minute when left-back Mason Winter did well to get a cross in from the left and Lewis Leigh-Gilchrist thumped a header off the crossbar. Leigh-Gilchrist also tested Liam Kingston in the 16th minute, shooting as he went to ground and the Robins keeper smothering low to his right.

The Portwaymen had to wait until the 33rd minute however before getting their noses in front. It was defender Lloyd Mills who rose highest in the box to head in a Jordan Metters corner.

Bideford had a better start to the second half, drawing level in the 58th minute when after a melee in the box Ben Wood gleefully smashed home from close range.

Manor Farm now came under increased pressure with Iain Harvey heading off the line in the 61st minute and goalkeeper Andrew Collings producing a great diving stop to deny a firmly hit long range effort.

Jordan Metters then had a great opportunity to seal the points for the Farm when he ran on to a good flick from Alan Griffin but lifted his shot over both the keeper and bar.

The points were finally sealed in the 81st minute when Leigh-Gilchrist ran through before coolly slotting the ball past Kingston and Griffin made a crucial headed clearance at the back post in the final minute of the game.

STAR MAN (Lloyd Mills, Bristol Manor Farm)

Bristol Manor Farm 1 Barnstaple Town 2

Barnstaple grabbed all three points in a dramatic finale at The Creek with substitute Saddam Bello scoring a last minute winner to make it three wins in five for the Devon club and a result that lifts them off the foot of the table for the first time since September.

An early Jordan Metters corner for the home side was floated dangerously towards the back post and had to be tipped over the bar by Barum keeper Steve Oliver.

Barnstaple took the lead in the 9th minute when former Farm centre-half Kai Fisher rose highest in the box to meet a corner and head the ball home. The goal settled the visitors who had the best of the first half hour, drawing a great point blank save out of Ben John from close range and Yohan Rutty-Smith shooting over the bar when he looked well-set to make it 2-0.

Ten minutes before the break Farm should have equalised when Steve Kingdon set up Alan Griffin four yards out but the Farm striker could only poke the ball agonisingly wide of the post.

A Farm equaliser still failed to materialise when Fisher cannoned a header against his own post and crossbar and substitute Lewis Leigh-Gilchrist clipped the foot of the same upright moments later with a rasping drive from 22 yards out. Leigh-Gilchrist then had a 30 yard free-kick tipped behind for a corner by Oliver.

Farm got the equaliser that their second-half performance deserved when Olly Mehew, making his full Farm debut, got behind the back four, slipped the ball wide of Oliver and tucked the ball into an empty net.

Fisher headed wide from close range in the game’s closing quarter and Metters just ran out of space after a superb solo run deep into the visitor’s box.

With the game heading for a draw, a long clearance fell into the path of Barum sub Bello who kept his composure before slotting past John. There then followed a protracted end to the game when home goalkeeper John and Barnstaple striker Stewart Bowker were both dismissed for an unsightly tangle in the games final moments.

STAR MAN (Jamie Adams, Bristol Manor Farm)

Bristol Manor Farm 2 Willand Rovers 1

Home debutant Alan Griffin’s second-half goal sealed the points for Manor Farm in a tough, well-contested Boxing Day match at The Creek.

Willand had the better of the early exchanges, taking a 4th minute lead from the penalty spot through Craig Veal following a foul in the box by Lloyd Mills.

The tide began to turn midway through the half for Manor Farm with right-back Tyler Ashmead offering a consistent outlet down the right flank. Griffin shot over from a Jordan Metters corner and following more great work by Ashmead the big number 9 brought a superb save out of Mike Searle. With five minutes of the first period left the home side finally drew level when Joe Tumelty was upended in the Willand penalty area before stepping up to slam the resultant spot-kick past Searle.

Farm had to defend well during the opening skirmishes of the second half. Ben John, Steve Kingdon and Stuart Tovey were all called upon to thwart danger as Willand threatened ascendancy once more.

Rovers right-back Josh Searle then went on a decent run himself – cutting inside and shooting, via a slight deflection, just wide of the far post.

The winner arrived in the 73rd minute when Metters, marauding deep into the penalty area in the inside right position, sat Searle down, went round him and crossed for Griffin, rising highest in the middle, to power a header home from six yards.

STAR MAN (Tyler Ashmead, Bristol Manor Farm)

Bristol Manor Farm 0  Mangotsfield United 1

A 20th minute strike by skipper Lee Hartshorn was enough to give Mangotsfield victory in Saturday’s Bristol derby at The Creek

For all their endeavour and pacey forward approach play, Manor Farm could not find an equaliser despite creating a number of chances in the second half.

During a frenetic opening Farm had a good-looking penalty shout turned down when Joe McClennan was challenged as he marauded into the box and Jordan Metters hit a shot over the bar following a corner.

The deadlock was broken when Hartshorn blasted a rebound home high into the net after a good save from Ben John from a Treyvond Anderson header.

Farm’s Joe McClennan brought a good low save from Marko Radovanovic six minutes later after another good run at pace.

With just over five minutes left in the opening half John made a superb save to keep the score at one-nil when he palmed a firm effort by Hartshorn onto the crossbar and away.

Farm beavered away throughout the second half but an equaliser eluded them with the best of their many chances falling late to left-back Mason Winter and midfielder Metters. But on the day there was to be no way past Radavanovic who stood out and stood strong for the visitors.

STAR MAN (Marko Radavanovic, Mangotsfield United)

Basingstoke Town 1 Bristol Manor Farm 3

A brace from Jordan Metters helped Manor Farm to all three points in a well-deserved victory over struggling Basingstoke Town.

Exiled to Winchester whilst they await a move back home, the Dragon’s huffed and puffed but time and again ran up against a resolute and robust Manor Farm back four in no mood to see their own house blown down.

In the earliest stage of the game the home side came closest to scoring first when Ben Wright smashed a half volley over the bar from twelve yards out but moments later up the other end Manor Farm took an early lead when birthday boy Lewis Bamford cleverly worked the ball past his marker through the inside right channel before burying the ball into the far corner of the net.

Town’s Bradley Wilson then had two chances to pull the sides level – shooting over the bar during a melee in the box in the 7th minute and shortly afterwards pulling a shot narrowly wide of Ben John’s far post.

Lewis Leigh-Gilchrist had an industrious run and shot smothered by Basingstoke keeper Freddie Gee midway through the half before the injured goal-scorer Bamford was replaced by Joe Tumelty.

For the visitors Joe McClennan was always a lively threat – attacking the home rearguard at pace whenever the opportunity presented itself but it was from a close range effort that the forward almost doubled his sides lead just before half-time when his snap-shot went inches past the post.

Manor Farm couldn’t have asked for a better start to the second half when attacking deep into a crowded Basingstoke penalty area Jordan Metters was able to drive the ball home past Gee to double The Portwaymen’s lead.

Farm ‘keeper Ben John ensured the lead was retained with a couple of smart saves – one from a free-kick on the left and a great diving stop that saw the rebound fly over the bar.

Whilst Basingstoke carried a threat on the break they rarely looked like getting the better of a back four brilliantly marshalled at its’ heart by skipper Steve Kingdon and Josh Nelmes.

For the home side chances became rarer as the game went on – Ben Wright’s good turn and shot that flew wide with twenty minutes left to play a rare opening in the games closing quarter.

Farm full back Tyler Ashmead had a good run and shot from the right and Leigh-Gilchrist hit a ball just over the bar during a sustained period of Farm pressure down the left. With just over ten minutes to play Leigh-Gilchrist then screwed a shot narrowly wide.

In the 82nd minute the game suddenly took on a different complexion when  Basingstoke skipper Dean Stow pulled a goal back for the home side with a tremendous curling left foot effort high into the corner from 22 yards. Five minutes later Ben John collected the ball comfortably from a close range header following a corner as Basingstoke desperately sought an equaliser.

In the final two minutes of regular time McClennan’s shot on the turn was smothered by Gee after excellent work by Metters. His namesake Jordan Edwards was then sent off for the home side for a second yellow card offence.

With Basingstoke pressing for parity in injury time Farm broke with clinical pace and precision with McClennan switching play with a beautiful cross-field pass to Metters on the right who powered a slide rule shot past Gee to make the final score 3-1 to The Farm.

With four of their five league victories coming on the road, Manor Farm will look to replicate their away form and up their home tally of wins in a Bristol derby this coming Saturday against Mangotsfield United.

STAR MAN (Joe McClennan, Bristol Manor Farm)

Bristol Manor Farm 2   Slimbridge 2

In this hugely watchable game, Bristol Manor Farm launched a great second-half fight-back to earn themselves a point having been second-best for the games first hour.

Following on from a disappointing performance and result at home to Evesham on Saturday, Farm fell behind inside five minutes of the kick-off when a cross from the right was tapped into the net at the far post by an unmarked Adam Price from two yards out. Not the start The Portwaymen were looking for.

Jordan Metters briefly troubled the Slimbridge goalkeeper in the sixteenth minute with a deceptively well-struck free-kick from 25 yards out but that was about the closest Farm came to scoring during a first half in which Slimbridge looked well-organised at the back and dangerous when going forward. 

Much of their play was driven through midfield by Ryan Beckinsale and just past the half-hour mark The Swans number 8 almost scored with a blistering effort from just outside the box which whistled inches high of the bar. Beckinsale capped an outstanding first-half performance with a ‘pearler’ of a goal from 25 yards out, advancing unchallenged from the half-way line before striking a sweet curling effort high past Ben John’s spectacular diving effort to stop it.

At two-nil to the visitors at half-time, few in the ground would have predicted the outcome but just as they did on Saturday, Manor Farm started the second half well with Joe McClennan getting a good shot off but over the bar shortly after the restart.

At the back however Josh Nelmes still had to make an important defensive header away with the Farm box coming under increasing pressure once again.

Just before the hour mark Farm got a foothold back in the game when Lewis Bamford (an early second-half substitute along with his namesake Lewis Leigh-Gilchrist) netted a loose ball from a cross on the left, steadying himself before volleying in low at the right hand post.

The game really opened up now with end-to-end attacks – Ben John making a miraculous double-save as Slimbridge threatened to restore their two-goal advantage and a dangerous cross from Metters was flicked over the bar off a defender’s head as Manor Farm searched for an equaliser.

With seven minutes left to play Farm full-back Tyler Ashmead made a typically bustling run to the byline, sat the ball up in the box and Leigh-Gilchrist’s header screwed narrowly past the far upright but it was Ashmead’s superb reflex header off the line up the other end that kept the home side in it following a rebound shot from another fine stop by John.

With two minutes left of regulation play The Swans resolve finally broke as Farm poured forward in pursuit of a point. Joe McClennan made a surging run into the inside left channel and when his ball into the box finally came back out to the right it fell to the lively Bamford, who beat his man before setting up Leigh-Gilchrist in the box to gleefully poke home from close range.

For the home fans it was a stirring comeback and a warm end to a cold night. They’ll be hoping Manor Farm can take the same intensity into the start of their game against Basingstoke in Winchester this coming Saturday.

STAR MAN (Lewis Bamford, Bristol Manor Farm)

Bristol Manor Farm 0   Evesham United 3

The Robins opened the scoring during the ninth minute of the game when striker Paul Sullivan had the time and space inside the box to finish cleanly past Ben John from 15 yards out.

The Farm keeper then had to make a smart fisted stop from Lee Chilton and shortly afterwards watch a Matt Dodd shot roll just wide of his far post. Some great last-ditch defending by John and skipper Steve Kingdon kept the lead to a single goal before Sullivan powered a volley high over the bar on the stroke of half-time.

Manor Farm had their best spell of the game following the restart with Jamie Bird’s dipping volley going just wide, Lewis Leigh-Gilchrist rifling past a post and Tyler Ashmead bringing a fine palmed save from Richard Walton.

Evesham forced their way back into the ascendancy when Dodd smacked a ball off the post during a fast-breaking attack and the visitors doubled their lead in the 70th minute when Jack Cresswell’s deep free-kick snuck in at the near post without getting a touch from the crowd of players all converging on the ball.

The win was sealed in the 87th minute when Chilton raced forward before angling a powerful drive back across John and into the far corner.

STAR MAN (Matt Dodd, Evesham United)

Melksham Town 0 Bristol Manor Farm 0

A solid defensive display helped Bristol Manor Farm maintain their unbeaten run since returning to league action in mid-October, securing a third clean sheet in four for their efforts at a rain-swept infiLED Stadium on Saturday.

The swirling wind and rain made for difficult conditions but having said that, there was still plenty of good football on display throughout the game. Manor Farm created the greater number of openings than Melksham but couldn’t supply the finishing touch to an otherwise generally confident performance.

Farm started brightly – with both full-backs Tyler Ashmead and Mason Winter probing beyond the back four down either flank twice in the opening fifteen minutes, both hitting deep crosses that begged to be attacked from midfield.

A flowing Farm move out of defence was ended when Winter was brought down after turning inside off another good run down the left but the resultant free-kick – in a good position – alas came to nothing.

In the 18th minute another great flowing move with Jordan Metters at it’s heart led to a Joe Tumelty shot that went away for a corner. Farm Skipper Steve Kingdon at the back post headed back across into the danger area where a poke forward from Lloyd Mills was finally scrambled away off the line by the Melksham defence.

With just over a half-hour played a great flick and run by Lewis Leigh-Gilchrist brought a low, diving save from Jamie Bartlett in the Melksham goal who finally turned the ball behind for a corner after Leigh-Gilchrist followed up a blocked effort with a firm drive to the keeper’s left.

A minute later Melksham won a free-kick in a dangerous spot 22 yards out but after careful placement by goalkeeper Ben John the Manor Farm wall did its job to a ‘T’.

Melksham had the ball in the net ten minutes before the break but the goal was ruled out for a tight-looking offside when Luke Ballinger crossed to the far post for Jack Ball to head home from close range.

With the game goal-less at half-time a fresh rainstorm swept into the stadium and ‘parked a meteorological bus’ so to speak – refusing to budge for the remainder of the game, making for difficult, swirling conditions for both sides. As passing and tackling became ever more precarious the half grew ever more tetchy and stop/start with Melksham keen to break up Manor Farm’s rhythm in any way they could.

Around the hour mark Joe McClennan, making his first start for the visitors since being side-lined through injury in mid-September, won a loose ball on the left to curl a 20-yard effort that Bartlett safely gathered and at the other end Kingdon was grateful to see his timely interception slice away high for a corner.

A long-range Ballinger shot failed to trouble Ben John and the Farm keeper had Kingdon to thank for two sure-footed blocks in front of him before Melksham’s Taiwo Ojo came the closest to scoring all afternoon when he flashed a near-post header inches wide with fifteen minutes left on the clock.

Three efforts in the final three minutes of regulation time – one for Melksham, two for the Farm – could’ve settled the game either way. Firstly, Jake Ball flashed an effort across the visitor’s box that failed to find a touch, then following a characteristically flowing move Metters combined well going into the box before arcing a sweet shot just high of the Melksham bar and Leigh-Gilchrist, with the 90 minutes up, shot straight at Bartlett.

The point moved Manor Farm up to 8th place in the table with an average two games in hand on the teams currently above them – a notable ascension considering the club were in bottom place (20th) as recently as mid-October. Melksham remain 17th. Next up for the Farm is a trip to fifth-placed Cinderford Town this Saturday where Lee Lashenko’s men will look to avenge defeat there last season and continue their remarkable climb up the table.

STAR MAN (Mason Winter, Bristol Manor Farm)

Bristol Manor Farm 1 Moneyfields 0

Bristol Manor Farm took the spoils in an exciting yet ill-tempered affair at home to Moneyfields, which saw the visitors reduced to 10 men after going behind to the only goal of the game. 

Moneyfields started the brighter and striker Stephen Hutchings had two chances within 5 minutes but was twice denied by home keeper Ben John. The highlights of a sub-par first half came in minutes 40 and 41 and involved chances at either end – Farm’s Jordan Metters was denied by defender Jamie Ford on the goal-line before the visitors broke and Ryan Pennary was denied by John. 

Farm started the second half positively and the best early chance fell to Jamie Bird who could only shape his shot wide from 12 yards. The deadlock resisted until 15 minutes from time when substitutes Leigh-Gilchrist and Bamford combined with the latter skipping by two defenders and forced an excellent but meaningless save, as Leigh-Gilchrist buried the rebound. Tempers had threatened to fray at several moments before Moneyfield’s forward Hutchings was given his marching orders for persistent off the ball incidents with Bamford with 10 minutes left.

One was proven to be enough as Farm collected successive wins in their returns to league action this week before they travel to Highworth Town at the weekend.

STAR MAN – Josh Nelmes


Bideford 0 Bristol Manor Farm 2

Having been exclusively involved in Cup matches over the previous four weeks, Bristol Manor Farm finally turned their attentions back to a League campaign which saw them starting the day in bottom place – albeit with a number of games in hand over all of their divisional rivals.

Travelling to North Devon on a Tuesday night with an injury-ravaged squad didn’t, in truth, look like an ideal game with which to re-launch the season but actually this was as comfortable and thoroughly professional a victory as Farm are likely to have this season against a Bideford side who rarely troubled Ben John’s goal all night. Manor Farm were organised and disciplined without the ball and lively and often exciting when they had possession of it.

Bideford had the first chance of the game in the 4th minute when Domenico Panesar-Dower rose at the back post but could only head wide. Bideford instantly rued the missed chance when Farm sprung forward to take the lead just a minute later.

With Joe Tumelty walking back from an offside position The Robins failed to track Jamie Bird’s excellent 20-yard run from a midfield position and Jordan Metters duly sent an exquisite little through-ball in behind the back four into the young forward’s path. Bird advanced alone into the area before coolly lifting a neat finish over the advancing Liam Kingston’s dive.

Five minutes later Farm doubled their lead when Bird won a loose ball in midfield and fed Joe Tumelty who took the ball into the left hand side of the box before finishing with great composure.

Some of Farm’s one-touch football was a delight to behold, going through midfield and getting behind the back four on a regular basis – Tumelty had a good run and shot saved by Kingston, a great, marauding run by Tyler Ashmead saw the young Farm full-back (again pressed into emergency service as a right-winger) get to the by-line and lift a dangerous cross to the back post where Bird volleyed over the bar.

On 30 minutes the best flowing move of the game – involving Ashmead, Metters and Lloyd Mills – ended with Tumelty putting the ball in the net again but the Assistant flagged for a tight offside decision and the score stayed at 2-0 to the Farm.

Sholing 2 Bristol Manor Farm 1

Amid something of an injury crisis, Bristol Manor Farm’s route to a Wembley final was stalled for the second time in four days – crashing out of the FA Trophy on a sodden Saturday in Southampton following their midweek defeat in an FA Cup replay at Wealdstone.

With six regulars side-lined Lee Lashenko’s heavily-adjusted side understandably took a long while to settle in this game as Sholing dominated a first half in which Farm goalkeeper Ben John – outstanding once again – was tested throughout. Farm had to defend stoutly in slippery conditions, rarely troubling John’s opposite number. 

Just past the half-hour mark defender Josh Nelmes had the crossbar to thank for denying the home side a lead with a spectacular volleyed back-heel that flew off his boot as he competed bravely to stop a goal-bound shot.

Minutes later Farm did concede when a mis-placed pass allowed a cross from the left to find Sholing debutant Stuart Green who had time and space in the box to pick his spot and easily slot home.

Ashley Kington responded with a good shot from the right on a rare Farm foray but The Portwaymen’s first-half misery was compounded when influential midfielder Lewis Leigh-Gilchrist had to limp off in pain a minute before the break.

It was actually Leigh-Gilchrist’s replacement – Youth team graduate Troy Waters – who provided a much-needed spark for the Farm in an altogether different second half.

Led by dogged, battling performances in midfield, Manor Farm finally got on the front foot early in the half and gained parity in the 53rd minute when Jordan Metters curled a delicious trademark free-kick beyond Ryan Gosney’s reach and into the top corner.

Ten minutes later however there was still some defending to do with Mason Winter having to clear from under his own crossbar as the Farm fans held their collective breath.

Back up the other end, a great move involving Metters and Lloyd Mills – whose  own overall example and influence grew distinctly through the game –  set up a header for Jamie Adams that was just tipped wide by Gosney. Adams then tried a clever chip in the 69th minute which Gosney again got a late, saving hand to.

For all of Farm’s big second-half effort it was Sholing’s most influential player Green who bagged a personal brace with 15 minutes left to play to earn his side victory. Following a missed clearance Green was on hand in the box again to shoot – the ball took a wicked deflection off John’s knee as he dived to smother, sending it looping high into the net.

With five minutes left Ashley Kington cut inside from the left before unleashing a fine effort that Gosney got a fingertip to, onto the crossbar, to deny the visitors an equaliser.

With the 90 minutes almost up, Waters – who had made several inroads past defenders since his introduction – got a shot off that Gosney gathered easily. In time-added on John kept the Farm alive with a great save from close range and with the final chance of the game Waters did well again to beat his marker but his shot flew over the bar.

The Farmy Army warmly applauded the team’s second-half efforts at the end of a challenging week. Farm will work hard to put out their strongest team possible for the long midweek trip to Bideford on Tuesday night – seeking to lift themselves up the table with multiple league games in hand now that cup football is over for the season. For the second season running the club has made its own cup history – but now it’s back to regular business. Saturday’s second-half performance shows there is good quality in the depth of Lashenko’s squad, tested at present though it is.

STAR MAN (Lloyd Mills, Bristol Manor Farm)  

Wealdstone 4 Bristol Manor Farm 0 

So, Manor Farm’s record-equalling best ever FA Cup run finally came to a heroic end in Tuesday night’s 3rde Qualifying round Replay at wealdstone’s Grosvenor Vale ground and whilst the scoreline might look emphatic and routine for the National League South host’s, this epic cup-tie was everything but.

Farm bouyed by their impressive performance at the weekend, started brightly when a neat move forward found Jay Adams outside the Wealdstone area, but he lost his footing upon connection and could only scoop the ball into into the vocal travelling support behind home stopper Adam Oxborough’s goal. Wealdstone then gained a measure of control as Farm struggled to properly clear their lines and they almost gifted the home side a lead when Steve Kingdon’s outstretched interception beat his own keeper Ben John – the hero of the first leg and indeed in some parts this – but trickled just wide before a stunning last-gasp tackle by Josh Nelmes denied Dennon Lewis a sure fire opener.

The games first real was created and very nearly buried by the outstanding “Stone’s” midfielder Billy Clifford as he collected the ball just inside the box before spinning and leaving John standing with a shot that pinged off the far post and away to safety. Farm, always a threat on the break, created their first meaningful chance when, after forcing a corner with another effort on goal, Lewis Leigh-Gilchrist collected the ball wide and bent his effort inches past the far post with Oxborough scrambling.

Wealdstone would grab the lead just before the break, recycling the ball just after striker Ross Lafayette had hit the post one more, before he himself supplied a terrific cross for winger Jacob Mendy to plant his header and settle home side nerves. One became two just before the interval as Lewis was denied by not one but two outstanding pieces of goalkeeping by John before Kingdon headed away a goalbound volley from Connor Smith.

Having scored 3 minutes before the end of the first half, “The Stones” would double their lead 3 minutes into the second as Clifford span before sliding a lovely ball through to Michael Etefe who cooly rounded the advancing keeper before tucking the ball away. The home sides pressure didn’t let up as John somehow produced another miraculous save – Clifford finding himself free in the box but being bravely denied by the Farm’s keeper’s reflexes at point blank range.

Wealdstone would eventually confirm their place in the next round as the ever – elusive Clifford manufactured space for himself before unleashing a curling effort that left Ben John with no chance.

Manor Farm would have the ball in the net just as their spirit deserved when substitute Lewis Bamford  squared for Tyler Ashmead to tap home – only to be left dissapointed to see the assistant with his flag raised for offside. There was still time for the hosts to add some gloss to the scoreline when striker Lewis seized on a misplaced pass and rounded John for a fourth.

Worthy winners on the night, Wealdstone now progress to the final Qualifying Round of the competition for another stiff test at Maidenhead United.

For Manor Farm, despite the result and the end of another epic FA Cup adventure, Lee Lashenko, his players and the magnificently vocal “Farmy Army” of supporters returned back down the M4 with nothing but praises ringing, pride very much intact and certainly no regrets – the players all left everything and more out there on the pitch – looking forward to carrying their excellant current form on into Saturday’s FA Trophy tie away to Sholing and further ahead to the league.

Written by; Jack Davies & Kevin O’Donohoe

Bristol Manor Farm 0 Wealdstone 0

Bristol Manor Farm both rode their luck but defended heroically at times to earn themselves a replay at National League South leaders Wealdstone.

During a tense opening half an hour, Joe Tumelty took a shot on the turn, Lewis Leigh-Gilchrist had a snap-shot well saved by Stones ‘keeper Aston Oxborough and for the visitors Ross Lafayette shot into the side-netting after finding space in the inside left channel.

Ben John had to save well twice as his penalty area came under increasing ‘Royals’ pressure but the Farm ‘keeper was rooted to the spot with a minute left in the half as Connor Smith saw his header from a corner bounce back off a post.

The best chance of the game came just before the hour mark when the referee awarded a penalty for Wealdstone. After a short delay Lafayette blasted his spot kick low down the middle and John gratefully smothered it.

Clearly lifted by the reprieve, Manor Farm began to express themselves more with midfielder Jay Adams shooting just wide of the far post a minute later up the other end.

Farm skipper Steve Kingdon ultimately led the resistance by example, producing a great double-block in the 66th minute and clearing off the line from Dennon Lewis who had looked certain to snatch a late winner. Farm can be proud of their efforts and thoroughly deserve a second bite of the cherry this coming Tuesday night.

STAR MAN (Steve Kingdon, Bristol Manor Farm)Bristol

Weston Super Mare 1 Bristol Manor Farm 1 *

  (*WSM won 3-1 on penalties)

Ahead of our big FA Cup game against Wealdstone on Saturday, Manor Farm put in a good, spirited team performance at a blustery Weston Super Mare on Tuesday night – holding our Southern Premier League neighbours to 1-1 over 90 minutes before crashing out of the League Cup in the ensuing penalty shoot-out.

Fielding three changes from last Saturday’s starting eleven that smashed seven goals past Moneyfields in the FA Trophy, Farm made a bright, positive start to the game, getting our tackles in early and playing on the front foot.

A long range effort by Weston’s Jarrad Welsh failed to trouble Ben John in the 12th minute and Jay Malshanskyj’s curling effort looped safely into the Farm keepers hands a minute later. John saved well in the 26th minute, diving low to keep out an on the turn effort by former Farm striker Owen Howe.

Farm forced a succession of corners at the other end and from the third of them Josh Nelmes met Ashley Kington’s centre with a firm volley to put the Portwaymen 1-0 up.

Welsh was lively for the Seagulls – forcing an excellent block by John before drilling a firm strike just wide of the post shortly after. John then saved bravely at Howe’s feet as the hosts pressed for an equaliser.

Five minutes before the break Weston drew level when a deep in-swinging corner from the right by the exciting 17-year old winger Ryan Jones sailed on the wind to the back post where Kington appeared to have headed the ball off the line. The Referee’s Assistant flagged otherwise to confirm that the ball had in fact crossed the line and to be fair there was very little protest by the Farm players.

Jordan Metters replaced Jamie Bird and Lloyd Mills came on for Iain Harvey as Farm looked to stem the tide of increasing Weston pressure early in the second half.

A good run and shot by Malshanskyj in the 68th minute was well-saved by John diving low to smother. Joe Tumelty turned and shot straight at Luke Purnell in the Weston goal a minute later with Farm’s first direct effort of the half.

Skipper Steve Kingdon produced a fine block at the near post to deny Howe a goal against his former team-mates and Seagull’s substitute Jack Mawford hit a sharp drive just high and wide with just under a quarter of an hour to play.

With ten minutes left Lewis Leigh-Gilchrist shot only just wide with a rasping effort from 30 yards and Aron Robbins kept Farm in the game in the 85th minute, clearing the ball after John saved well from a wicked deflection with danger arriving at the back post. Robbins was once again on hand to scoop a dangerous ball behind for a corner with two minutes left of normal time.

With virtually the last kick of the game deep into injury time Weston full back Connor Davies volleyed a ball into the ground that flew across the six-yard but failed to find a finishing touch.

Farm were first up in the shoot-out but both Jay Adams and Ashley Kington, who clipped the ball off the bar, failed to find the net whilst Owen Howe was lucky with Weston’s first effort which John got down well to get a strong hand to but couldn’t quite keep out and Jones sent John the wrong way to put Weston 2 up. Leigh-Gilchrist gave Farm hope at 2-1 but Welsh slammed home for 3-1 before Mason Winter’s fourth Farm effort again slammed against the bar to render the remaining kicks irrelevant.

The players were warmly applauded from the pitch by the travelling Farmy Army – out in good numbers again in a crowd of 168 – and the players applauded back – all of us together as one with a bigger prize on our minds.

STAR MAN (Ben John, Bristol Manor Farm) 

Bristol Manor Farm 7 Moneyfield 1

It rained all morning in Bristol then rained goals all afternoon at The Creek in this FA Trophy game on Saturday.

Jamie Bird went close as did Lewis Bamford in the opening half hour but on 33 minutes Farm forced open what proved to be the floodgates when Lewis Leigh-Gilchrist hit a firm strike across the Moneyfields ‘keeper Jake Hallett.

Joe Tumelty made it 2-0 five minutes later after good work by Tyler Ashmead and Leigh-Gilchrist. Farm extended their lead two minutes into injury time when skipper Steve Kingdon scored on-the-turn whilst going to ground following a corner.

Moneyfields pulled a goal back in the 51st minute when Jake Raine’s cross-shot from the right eluded everyone and sailed into the top far corner.

Farm made it 4-1 in the 65th minute when Tumelty curled in a beauty and Leigh-Gilchrist pounced to make it 5-1 midway through the half.

Leigh-Gilchrist completed a brilliant hat-trick in the 77th minute when he went past a defender on the edge of the box before smashing the ball past Hallett to make it 6-1.

Substitute Stuart Tovey did really well to chase down a ball with 5 minutes remaining, crossing for Leigh-Gilchrist to slot home his fourth and Manor Farm’s seventh to set up a Preliminary Round tie away at Sholing.

STAR MAN (Lewis Leigh-Gilchrist, Bristol Manor Farm)