Following a breathtaking 90 minutes and a sudden-death shootout, Bristol Manor Farm exited the Senior Challenge Cup into the hands of local rivals Cribbs, as reported by William Ledbury.
Manager Lee Lashenko was determined to put Saturday’s defeat to Paulton behind them and rang in the changes as the Farm set out their stall in very testing conditions. Josh Ford partnered Ollie Woodhouse and Harry Lucas in central defense, while Rhys Thomas anchored the midfield alongside Theo Llewellyn. Despite receiving a straight red card on Saturday, Owen Brain joined Ben Bament to spearhead Farm’s attack. To Cribbs’ credit, the away side took a deserved lead just six minutes into the match. David Duru beat his man at the near post and glanced a header past the returning Ben John in Manor Farm’s goal. Evander Grubb was a constant thorn in Cribbs’ side, and his curling effort almost caught the young Johnson off guard in the 11th minute. However, it didn’t take long for Lashenko’s side to level the score. Grubb’s skillful footwork gave him the time and space needed to find Nielsen at the back post, who emphatically headed in the equalizer. With the momentum swinging in Farm’s favor, Nielsen came close to turning the half on its head with a powerful shot narrowly missing the near post. Keen to make the most of his last appearance before his suspension, forward Owen Brain danced through the Cribbs defense and struck the ball low and hard, forcing Johnson to be alert.
Within seconds of the restart, Brain was fouled on the edge of the area, and his free-kick was smothered to safety. Playing in his favored position, Rhys Thomas came agonizingly close to scoring his first goal for the club when he bent a strike past the far post. Returning keeper Ben John was called into action on 67 minutes when he made two crucial saves. A long ball was misjudged by Woodhouse, allowing Cribbs an opportunity, but like he had done so many times in previous years, Johnsey flew out of his area to deny the visitors. Controversially, Cribbs survived two red card scares in the 83rd minute when two separate offenders attempted to bring down Brain on his countercharge. Due to the class that Brain displays, the forward was desperate to stay on his feet and win the match for Manor Farm. Had Brain gone down, perhaps a different decision would have been made. The conditions severely worsened as the night went on, but both teams rose to the occasion in an action-packed 90-minute match. Nielsen’s effort was fingertipped around the near post in added time before Harry Lucas unbelievably blocked a goal-bound effort with seconds left. With neither side able to find that elusive winning goal, a 15-penalty shootout followed on Tuesday evening, which saw Cribbs smash and grab their way into the next round of the GFA Senior Challenge Cup.