BRACES FROM COOPER AND ACTON HELP NINCH TO SECURE ALL THREE POINTS IN CHAGFORD
Chagford Reserves – STARTING XI; Mayhew, Frewin, Gill, Hutchinson, Manners-Chapman, Rowe, Sampson, Snell, Stone, White, White. SUBS; Philpott, Ralph, Sansom.
Bradninch Town – STARTING XI; James, Upham, Birley, Buxton, Wright, Skinner, Clark, Buxton, Cooper, Leaney, King. SUBS; Acton, Cottrell, Reed, Reed.
The Ninch secured victory on the road for the first time in the league this season with a solid, professional performance.
With Ryan Shrewsberry and Matt Reed both out as a result of injuries sustained against Northam Lions last weekend, along with the absence of Todd Scrace, Max Foster, James Vincent and Cam Wright, Stuart Murray had to bring in some fresh faces in the form of Carl James, Liam Upham, Jonny Reed and Matt Leaney. Also returning to the squad for the trip to Chagford was Max Cooper, Owen Buxton and Lawrence Clark.
Murray decided to make a tactical change going into this game, reverting to four at the back, five in the middle and a lone front man in John King. It was clear from the off that this decision allowed Town to really take control of the game and create the tempo which would dictate the play.
Town certainly came out of the blocks the quicker of the two sides, immediately creating chances whilst still looking very convincing at the back with Carl James, stepping up from the reserves, not really having a great deal to do. It was clear from the off though, that with his exceptional distribution and kicking ability, he was really able to cause Chagford problems despite being between the sticks.
Both Max Cooper and Matt Leaney were causing the Chagford full backs a whole host of problems too; with their blistering pace and quick feet. There were several chances created in the opening spell of the game, primarily coming from wide positions.
However, it wasn’t until twenty minutes into the game that Bradninch would finally take a deserved lead through last seasons leading goal scorer, Lawrence Clark. ‘Baz’ demonstrated extreme composure during a solo run, topping it off by taking the ball around the keeper to slot in to the hosts empty net.
Any amounting pressure put on Town was quickly shut down by a combination of good defensive work from the newly installed back four, and some great work-rate from both Zack Skinner and Harry Buxton.
The half-time whistle soon blew, and the players could ease into the dressing room feeling pretty satisfied with their efforts at that point. Stuart Murray certainly looked ecstatic with his teams display so far, and would no doubt have been confident heading into the second half of the game.
Chagford kicked off the second half and for the opening fifteen minutes looked to be the better of the two sides. The hosts, although not troubling James in between the Bradninch sticks, were causing the visitors far more problems than they had prior to the half time break.
The first Ninch change was made on the hour mark with Aidan Cottrell coming on for the excellent Matt Leaney, and soon after, Murray made another change by replacing John King with Eliot Acton.
Despite these changes, Chagford were most certainly still in the game and their hopes of getting back into it were lifted when Lawrence Clark was deemed to have used his hand whilst defending a corner, thus resulting in a penalty for the hosts in front of their fans. Fortunately for Town, the Chagford man struck the ball over the bar and the Bradninch players soon realised that they had to up their game in order to claim victory.
An attractive passage of play from the Ninch led the ball into the feet of Acton, the new lone striker, who then guided it into Cooper. Doing what he does best, Cooper knocked the ball past the full back before striking the ball across the goal for it to nestle in the bottom left corner.
Bradninch, once again, took control of the game with captain Zack Skinner taking charge of the midfield and ensuring his teammates maintained a level head.
With Town pressuring high up the pitch, forcing Chagford sideways and backwards, eventually Eliot Acton was able to capitalise on a poor touch from the keeper, allowing him to stick the ball into an empty net. A moment which undoubtedly brought great pleasure to the forward as it was his first goal for the club since signing a few weeks earlier.
Bradninch retained the ball well going into the latter stages of the game and with just twenty to play, Cooper again picked the ball up on the right hand side of the pitch. He quickly went around the Chagford defender and whilst making his way through the box, he was hacked down and a penalty was unsurprisingly awarded. Cooper confidenty struck the ball sweetly into the back of the net to allow Town to sit nicely at 4-0 up.
Moments later, young full back Liam Upham was dispossessed in the right full back position which allowed the Chagford winger to put the ball into the box. The cross landed on the left foot of the attacker who calmly placed the ball, on the volley, past a helpless Carl James.
Despite having a spring in their steps, Chagford struggled to create any further chances in the game and with just over ten minutes to go, the ball was played up to Eliot Acton, 35 yards from goal. Acton brought the ball down delightfully before striking a volley, on the turn, over the head of the Chagford keeper to claim his second of the game and a fifth for Town.
Soon after restoring a four goal lead, Murray made his third and final change by bringing on the experienced Jonny Reed for Harry Buxton. This change meant Owen Buxton would move into a midfield role, allowing Reed to slot into a central defensive partnership with Will Birley.
As the game was coming to a close, Acton found himself chasing a ball over the top, but before he could stop himself, he collided with the keeper which ultimately led to the dismissal of the Chagford keeper after he lashed out at the Town forward. Acton also earned himself a yellow card in the process.
Just a few minutes later and the referee called an end to proceedings, meaning it was a second week in the row where Town would score five goals and claim all the rewards a victory can offer.
WORDS FROM THE BOSS
“First and foremost, it was the best team display I have seen so far this season. From the off you could see that we had shape and that allowed us to play creative, attacking football. Leans and Coops were outstanding and caused their defenders all kinds of problems. Birley and Owen gave us a solid base to play out from the back which helped to allow the midfield three of Baz, Harry and Zack completely control the game. I thought the latter, Zack, was fantastic and demonstrated some excellent challenges throughout the game. All of this added up to allow us to play some football the way it should be played. John King made great use of his strength to and physique to hold the ball up and bring others into play. Liam Upham, Josh Wright and Carl James were all brilliant today and really played their part. Likewise, the three used substitutes in El, Aidan and JR, were excellent when they came on… What a goal Eliot! Finally, special mention to Liam Reed, who is a fine example of what this level of football is all about; unfortunately he didn’t get on today but his head never drops and he’s a real asset to us at Bradninch. My man of the match goes to the captain, Zack Skinner.”