Bristol Manor Farm scored a dramatic last-gasp winner as they edged a 5-4 win in a remarkable contest away at Barnstaple Town, writes Matchday Reporter Jack Davies.
After back-to-back defeats in all competitions against Frome, Mangotsfield, and Winchester, The Portway travelled to Barum with the sole task of returning to The Creek with all three points.
Jayden Neilson’s superb Cruyff turn gave him the space to play a perfect weighted through ball, that evaded home keeper Jack Arthur, but neither Howe or Bament could convert after Howe’s initial shot clipped a home defender.
From the resulting corner Farm had their second chance in only the first two minutes, but Michael Bryant headed just wide.
Another corner then almost found it’s way directly to goal, Nielson’s teaser just dropping wide of the far post.
The opener would eventually arrive after 20 minutes. Winter’s peach of a pass found the ever willing runner Bament, who’s chipped half volley dropped in for 1-0.
The lead was doubled from the penalty spot, Howe winning the race over Arthur to a loose ball before the home keeper brought the forward down. Howe dusted himself down, and despite being made to wait an age by an injury for Arthur, his penalty was emphatic.
Rather than ending the contest, Barnstaple came flying back after seeing their deficit doubled, some penalty box pinball eventually fell to Ian Cockwell who rifled a finish into the top corner from 10 yards.
The Portwaymen had a few chances to restore the two goal buffer. Bament forced a smart save by Arthur before Ford’s deflected header bounced on the top of the bar but over.
Saddam Bello then fired one just wide for the hosts, before the striker was fouled by Sam Boulton inside the area. Bello stepped up himself and sent his penalty into the roof of the net to level the scores.
Lee Lashenko’s side almost fell behind just seconds into the restart. The ever-present Bello found himself through once again, only for Boulton to appear out of nowhere and make a superb last ditch tackle.
Howe was then at it again before the hour, combining well with Bament before nodding the wingers cross just wide.
Farm would retake the lead in fortuitous fashion just after the hour. Positive play from Bament and Mike Bryant led to skipper Aron Robbins whipping the ball into the danger area, only for Arthur to horribly misjudge the cross and drop the ball into the far corner.
The Farmers wouldn’t take much longer to get their fourth. After seeing Jamie Short head wide from his perfect cross from the left, Nielson would go it alone the second time around as he drilled a low finish through the legs of Arthur for 4-2.
As if attempting to completely replicate the first-half, Barnstaple clawed their way back into the match almost immediately after conceding.
Substitute White-Harper Innis, barely on the pitch for a minute, was left completely unmarked to head home Barum’s third.
Farm looked determined to learn from the first half and plugged away for a fifth. Ben Bament flagged offside as he tucked the ball away despite the touch through looking like it had been from home defender Ben Palmer.
Howe then perhaps could have been given a second penalty in the 80th minute, once more nicking the ball ahead of Arthur before a coming together but nothing given.
Barnstaple then looked to have finally earned their first point of the season, Bello timing his run to perfection and his cute dinked finish levelled the game.
With just minutes left on the clock, it seemed that The Portwaymen would have to settle for the point. An outstanding defensive tackle denied Bament, who looked set to tap home his second of the evening.
As the final seconds ticked by, Manor Farm forced a succession of corners. The first saw one flick off Bello and rattle his own post. The final corner was flapped at by Arthur, and Bament showed an incredible presence of mind to ride several challenges before finding Robbins who rifled home his second and the winner – breaking Barnstaple’s hearts, who came so close yet so far from their first point of the season.
STAR MAN, Aron Robbins