Ashton & Backwell United edged out by Bitton in narrow defeat

Mason Hardidge, first left in the wall, scored the second goal with two minutes left.

Mason Hardidge, first left in the wall, scored the second goal with two minutes left. - Credit: A&BUFC

Ashton & Backwell United were narrowly edged out in five goal thriller with Bitton at the Lancer Scott Stadium last Saturday.

With a number of regulars missing, it was a much-changed Stags side, second from bottom, faced second top, promotion hopefuls Bitton.

The visitors were soon on the attack, a Mitch Tippins shot blocked on the line in the second minute, with Bitton putting the home side under considerable pressure for long periods, yet with little direct threat.

Joe McClennan buzzed around, but even when he got clear, shot wide.

United, when they could feed Man of the Match Mason Hardidge, fresh from the table-topping reserves, looked dangerous and half through the first period Cameron Main, another promoted from the youth set-up won a throw-in near the corner flag.

The ball came in to Hardidge who drilled the ball goalward and forced a save from Joe Ledbury.

Sam Price and Brad Skidmore were busy especially down the left and the latter should have made more of a Hardidge cross across the goal mouth on the half hour.

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However, Tony Beecham's side were showing a big, yet static Bitton too much respect, trying to match their physical dominance when speed and movement were far more effective.

Therefore, the home box was a busy place, Lewis Coombes foiling a Tippins free-kick and the defence having to save the team from losing the ball too often in midfield.

Both Jack Ball and Dean Griffiths wasted a good opportunities, but when, three minutes later, a cross into the box was not properly cleared Matt Groves thumped in from corner of the box for a half-time lead.

That respect persisted into the second period when McClennan burst through on the left, Coombes parried the ball out, but Griffiths made up for earlier failure to score Bitton’s second.

Immediately after Stags were twice indebted to Coombes for further saves from Ben Withey and McClennan.

Finally the hosts realised that moving quickly was the key and great movement involving Hardidgecand new signing Aaron Price finding Price’s head drew one back in the 73rd minute.

More pressure should have given the goal scorer his a second two minutes later. 

The home side were now worrying Bitton and pressurising them into errors.

Sadly a poor home clearance gave the ball to McClennan, who toyed with defence, saw his shot take a wicked deflection.

Coombes managed to get a hand to it but it was not enough to prevent the visitors restoring their two-goal lead with ten minutes left.

However, A & B didn't let their heads drop though, and the visitors were struggling, 88 minutes.

And a pinpoint cross from Skidmore out on the right was powered in by Hardidge. The home side continued to press, but time just ran out.

Another defeat, yet in the second period a belief that they can be competitive, ahead of their visit to Bridgwater on Saturday can only reflect this hope.

Lewis Coombes, Billy Devoy, Regan Sollers ,Tom Anthony, Joe Bishop (C), Tom Press, Cameron Main (Aaron Price), Dylan Hebblethwaite (Connor Saunders), Mason Hardidge, Sam Price.

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