Bristol Manor Farm’s final match of the 2020/21 season ended in defeat when they were beaten by Western League Premier side Bridgwater Town 1-0 at Fairfax Park.
Saturday’s encounter was Manor Farm’s sixth competitive match in just over two weeks, and with testing weather conditions, the Farm were up against it going into the match.
Bridgwater started the opening 15 minutes the strongest, and they flashed the Farm defence a warning signal when Jack Taylor squandered a great chance to put his side ahead. The ball was swung-in from the right-hand side with pace, but the unmarked Taylor could only stand and watch his header fly past the crossbar.
Moments later, Manor Farm’s first real opportunity came when Owen Howe struck a powerful free-kick, but the forward couldn’t quite hit the target.
Taylor was once again denied on the quarter mark when his diving header was expertly palmed away by Harry Thomas-Barker in the Manor Farm goal.
But it was third time lucky for Taylor and Bridgwater, when the experienced number nine scored on 29 minutes. Taylor beat his man at the near post, and glanced his header past Thomas-Barker to make it 1-0.
Manor Farm came agonisingly close to finding an equaliser on 33 minutes. Mason Winter whipped in a delicious cross from the right-flank, but Howe’s header skimmed past the back-post to keep Bridgwater ahead.
But the Farm’s best chance of the match came in the 38th minute. After the ball bobbled inside the Bridgwater area, Mike Bryant flung himself at the ball, and his acrobatic strike was expertly tipped over by Bannister.
After an encouraging half-time team talk by First-team Manager Lee Lashenko, the Farm came out all-ablaze in search of an equaliser.
A succession of chances came Manor Farm’s way. First, Lewis Leigh-Gilchrist’s strike was hit wide of the post, and then Marcus Day hit the Bridgwater crossbar after some neat footwork down the left-flank.
Howe was once again in the thick of the action on the hour mark. Kyle Tooze lifted the ball into the path of Howe, but he couldn’t get a strong enough connection on his flicked effort.
Leigh-Gilchrist was the next Farm player to try his luck from distance. Beating past two defenders, the substitute forward struck the ball with power – but his effort was fired narrowly-wide of the target.
Bridgwater came close to finishing the tie on 82 minutes. A cross from the left side missed everyone inside the Farm penalty area, and the onrushing Mike Duffy squandered a guilt-edged chance when Ben John pushed the ball around the back post.
Despite the Farm’s second-half dominance, Bridgwater would hold on to claim the victory at Fairfax Park. Saturday’s result was the first time that Lashenko’s side tasted defeat in their return to competitive action, and his side will look to build on their impressive form going into pre-season in June.