EXTENDED REPORT: Manor Farm Victorious Over Avonmouth

Bristol Manor Farm progressed to the second round of the Steve Hillier Memorial Cup on Saturday afternoon, defeating Bristol & Suburban Premier Division side Avonmouth FC. Watching the action from The Creek, Adam Thurston writes an extended match-report for the Farm…..

After four months away from competitive action, The Farm were finally able to blow away the cobwebs in midweek when they defeated Shirehampton FC 7-0 in a landslide victory ahead of the Steve Hillier Memorial Cup on Saturday.

The Farm welcomed different neighbours again for this first game in the form of Avonmouth FC, who incidentally played out a 1-1 draw with Shirehampton last weekend.

It was the Farm who started the match the brightest of the two sides; and that early pressure would tell when just after six minutes back in a Farm shire, Owen Howe would open his account since returning following exile at Weston-super Mare, Salisbury & Taunton Town respectively when he rose above the defence to head into the top corner.

However, just minutes later, Reece Purnell cancelled out the lead with the second headed goal of the game, this time following a neat diving header into the bottom corner, following a pin-point cross by Tom Cox, which left Harry Thomas-Barker with little chance to reach it. 1-1 in just seven eventful minutes.

After a lighting-quick start to the match, the action would soon begin to even out after quarter-of-an-hour with more neat passing taking place in the middle of the park. Few chances came for either side, with the exception for Farm striker Kyle Tooze who was unleashed on goal but couldn’t control his footing and the opportunity was missed.

A couple more open opportunities came just past the half-way point of the first half when Howe forced a save out of Aaron Harvey in the away goal and Marcus Day was able to hit a good shot from outside of the area that went over the bar.

As with buses, a third chance was then made when Mason Winter created something out of nothing when he lashed a powerful strike on-goal, but his effort sailed just wide of the crossbar.

Just as the half was coming to an end all square, Manor Farm scored two quick fire goals to go into the break with a two-goal advantage. Positive play from Aron Robbins who played across the box for a rather easy finish for Mike Bryant who added to his hat-trick from mid-week. Then minutes later, Robbins’ re-enacted this play again, this time for Owen Howe to tap home for his second to make it 3-1 as the referee brought the first half to an end.

The only change for the Farm at half-time was between the sticks when Ben John replaced Harry Thomas-Barker, who in truth hadn’t had too much to report on in the opening half.

John was made to work in the opening stages with a number of crosses made their way into the box which were dealt with well despite cries for a penalty from the away bench after a battle with Reece Purnell.

At the other end, chances were few and far between with Mason Winter again testing from distance but unfortunately couldn’t find the target after good battling work to create the opportunity.

Possession in the middle third was dominated by Farm for long periods, but the Avonmouth defence stood firm to continue to limit the chances during this time. Lewis Leigh-Gilchrist tested the feet of Harvey in the Avonmouth goal, who’s strike seemed like it was heading for the bottom corner.

Aaron Robbins thought he was through on goal for a 1v1 but was stopped in his tracks by a last-ditch tackle by Luke Armour who had joined the action in the second half. This was another move that was started by Steve Kingdon who was solid at the heart of the defence and in the air throughout.

An effort that ensured Farm and the limited number of people allowed to watch the game stayed focused on the action for the final ten minutes came from the right foot of Kyle O’Donovan who snuck through the defence and crashed a volley off the crossbar that left everyone around him stranded.

The final stages petered out with minutes given to all those on the bench to ensure they got a run out in the April sunshine.

A goalless second half ensured that Bristol Manor Farm could look forward to a Semi-Final on Tuesday night against Hallen (who defeated Bishops Sutton 6-0). Avonmouth could be proud of their efforts to play their part in a game where they more than made up the numbers and can also look forward to returning to The Creek in mid-week for their plate semi-final.