An astute substitution saw French Winger Abou Sylla transform a lacklustre performance into another West Bridgford victory as mid-table Arnold Town came to spoil the party.
By John Burns
The first half was a turgid affair with neither side able to get the ball moving on a very bobbly surface. The home team seemed to have their minds on the end of season weekend away in the bright lights of Newcastle as they were below par on the day
The visitors, marshalled well by James Price and Danny Hayes, defended deeply conceding the ball to Bridgford who were not near their recent high standard of attacking football. There was no lack of effort as Kevin Spriggs twice, Aaron Large and Tim Hopkinson had efforts go either wide or blocked – Hopkinson also had two penalty appeals waived away by the referee.
On the 17 minute a deep cross from Will Heath found Jurgen Charlesworth inside the box but his snap volley was well saved keeper Reece Jackson. Joe Butler for the visitors had a shot just wide and winger Chris Richards was causing full back Dave Erentz all sorts of problems down the left.
The half ended with Bridgford on top but with nothing to show for it.
The Bridgford management duo’s half time team talk worked as the home side got out of the traps quickly.
The introduction of French winger Abou Sylla began to pay dividends with his pace and trickery down the left. Two more chances fell to Bridgford however in the 55th minute and against the run of play Arnold hit the reds on the break – a long punt from keeper Jackson eluded the Bridgford defence and Joe Butler outpaced Ross McCaughey, rounded keeper Sam Clark and slotted home for a superb goal and shock lead. 0-1 (Arnold)
Bridgford reacted well with Aaron Large and Tim Hopkinson having good chances as the home side were starting to get frustrated – Jamie Spiers, Pat Newsome and Ross McCaughey were all booked for late tackles.
In the 73rd minute the reds persistence finally paid off when a superb Ross McCaughey corner was glanced in by full back Dave Erentz for an equaliser. 1-1 (Bridgford)
A minute later Sylla, Westcarr and Hopkinson combined for Sylla to slam slam home from the edge of the box past keeper Reece Jackson. Abou’s smile would of lit up the ‘champs elysees’ on a cold and wet Parisienne afternoon. 2-1 (Bridgford)
The Arnold players slumped as Bridgford piled on more pressure, Sylla was brilliant down the left and substitute Westcarr was a nuisance up front – it was no surprise in the 88th minute when striker Carl Westcarr made it three – a trademark turn and shot in the box wrapping the game up and a pile up of players in the celebrations. 3-1 (Bridgford)
The game finished with the score at 3-1. West Bridgford now require only six more points from their remaining four games to secure the East Midland Counties League title.
FT 3-1 (Bridgford)
Man Of The Match: Abou Sylla
Joint Manager Chris Marks was pleased with the result ‘I thought for an hour we were poor, Arnold deserved their goal and at that stage were the better side – we made changes, shuffled the shape and reacted well finally clicking into gear – in the end we probably got what we deserved.
On the 8th April West Bridgford are again at home against 4th placed Blaby and Whetstone – Kick Off 3pm