A scorching GlenMex Stadium proved to be an unfavourable first league match for Bristol Manor Farm as Bashley claimed victory on the opening day, writes William Ledbury.
As the temperature soared and Bashley began attacking the Farm’s defence, the newly-promoted side looked dangerous with every attack. In the absence of key centre halves Josh Ford and Steve Kingdon, captain Aron Robbins paired up with Lloyd Mills in the middle of Farm’s defence – and the two had to deal with pacey forwards Rafa Ramos and Harry McGrath.
The aforementioned Ramos got the match’s first shot away, as the strikers’ effort was deflected behind with Ben John poised to make the save at his near post.
Ramos then setup midfielder Adam Grange who lacked composure with his finish and skewed his shot high and wide of the Farm crossbar.
The opening goal of the match came in an extremely contentious fashion. With McGrath bursting inside the area, the fantastic Mills timed his sliding tackle to perfection and swiped the ball out of play for a throw-in. To Farm’s disarray and Bash’s delight, the referee pointed to the spot and awarded the home side a penalty. Despite Farm’s understandable protests, Grange tapped home the rebound after his initial shot was saved by John.
One almost became two as Farm midfielder Theo Llewellyn’s backpass was intercepted by Ramos who could only drag his effort wide of the target.
Farm would draw level right on the stroke of half-time after makeshift full-back Jayden Nielsen was hacked to the floor just inside the area – leaving the referee no choice but to award the penalty and level the playing field. The ever-reliable Owen Howe sent Ross Casey the wrong way and rolled the ball to make it 1-1.
With the scores level at the break, Farm’s misfortunes would continue in the 50th minute when central defender Sam Davidson rose highest to bury his header past John into the top left corner – sending the home crowd into delirium at the blazing GlenMex.
Manager Lee Lashenko started to rill the dice and one-by-one introduce Harry Lucas, Evander Grubb, and Kye Simpson into the action.
Jake Gosling, who slipped past two defenders and struck low and hard, was perhaps Farm’s best chance of the half. Casey in the home net did exceptionally well to push the ball around the back post.
Marcus Day and Simpson showed signs of their best abilities by holding the ball up and using their neat footwork to carve out openings, but Bash was in a defiant mood as they started to believe that all three points would be staying in the New Forest on Saturday afternoon.
As the home bench raised the board to signal five additional minutes, Farm forward Ben Bament seemed to slow down time as everyone inside the stadium anxiously waited to see what would come from the match’s last chance. Bament showed extreme pace and looked set to slam home the equaliser, but home keeper Casey managed to stretch a few inches closer and smothered the ball to ensure Bashley started life in the Southern League with a victory.
Next up for Bristol Manor Farm is a home tie against Bideford AFC on Tuesday evening for a 7:45pm kick-off.
(STAR MAN, Ben John)