Bristol Manor Farm produced arguably their best performance of the season as they defied awful conditions with a dominant win away at rivals Mangotsfield United, writes Jack Davies.
Recent results suggest that Mangotsfield have turned a corner following their poor start to the season, and looked lively from the offset. Kye Simpson collected a high ball, but the reliable Josh Ford came across his man to block the goal-bound effort.
15 minutes in, and Farm gained a measure of control following a fairly scrappy start to the match. Jayden Nielsen drove forward, but his strike went straight into the arms of Marco Radovanovic.
Loan teenager Evander Grubb was making his first start since his first spell last year and was looking very lively. He collected Steve Kingdon’s clever pass but his cross shot was hacked away.
Despite a very heavy and bobbly pitch, The Portwaymen were playing some wonderful football. Ben Bament spun his man and his pass to Gosling was returned with interest, but the striker found Radovanovic in defiant mood.
Gosling was next to try and force the issue, he freed himself down the left following an impudent nutmeg but his low cross just evaded Grubb with the defenders beaten.
The silky football kept coming deep in the half, Grubb exchanging passes with Mike Bryant but his close range effort was well smothered by Radovanovic once more.
Farm had struggled for goals of late, despite a number of chances in recent games but the first half dominance would be rewarded inside added time. Nielson recycled beautifully from a cleared corner and his perfect cross was headed home by skipper Aron Robbins.
The half could have got even better in the dying seconds, Bryant was tripped inside the box but his honesty to attempt to stay on his feet meant his penalty claim was waved away.
If that first-half ended with perhaps a poor piece of officiating, the start of the second-half was evened out when Nielsen put the Farm two-up at Cossham Street. Kyle Ford won another towering header, and despite Bament being wiped out, the referee played a good advantage leading up to the goal. Jake Gosling’s shot was parried, and Nielsen seized on a hurried clearance to hammer a finish into the far top corner.
The Portwaymen’s forward line continued to torment the Mangos’ defence. Bament once again unleashed down the right flank, and his low cross found Grubb, who sold defender Mercea Ilea, but his snapshot was too close to Radovanovic.
Grubb was involved again moments later, more solid defensive work by Ford led to the teenager getting in, but a superb recovery tackle by Ilea denied him, the big defender making up for being left for dead in the pairs’ last battle.
The hosts tried to force the issue late on, mostly only able to find Ford and Kingdon in determined mood. Even when Simpson evaded the pair in the final 10 minutes, his shot was well saved by Ben John.
Gosling and Bament shared a chance apiece with 5 to play, the duo had ran themselves into the ground all afternoon. The former jinked past two before his shot was saved, before the latter failed to connect with a half volley at the near post.
The games final moment added the icing that the performance certainly deserved. Substitute Shea Bennington-Mannings won a free kick just outside the box and Jake Gosling’s cross-cum-shot escaped any touch before nestling in the corner. The Gibraltan finally getting a goal his recent displays had more than merited.
STAR MAN, Jayden Nielsen.