Wiltshire Publications

Wed. 24th Oct. Toolstation Premier Div. Westbury Utd 2 Bitton 1

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Westbury have had an incredible run since Neil and Joe Kirkpatrick took the reins towards the back end of the 2016-2017 season.

In that time, United have lost just 4 league matches out of 64 and are still unbeaten in the league since last November!

This result and performance were arguably the best in that whole time, coming from behind to win against one of the favourites for the title, who had beaten us in the FA Cup last month!

From the first whistle it was clear this was going to be quite a night with no quarter asked or given, every challenge fiercely contested and plenty of chances for both teams!

Captain Steve Hulbert was outstanding throughout in the home defence and, although some of his antics were dubious, visiting midfielder Kane Ingram exemplified the winning attitude of both sides.

A very frantic opening to the match led to several late challenges and players squaring up to each other while Dan Kovacs, back in the side after injury, saw a shot fumbled onto the post by Ben Worton.

Kovacs, Ricky Hulbert and Callum Demkiv were a constant threat to Bitton with the latter’s pace and ball into the box only narrowly evading Ricky Hulbert.

Bitton’s wingers Ben Harris and Joe McLennan were equally dangerous and McLennan’s clever ball found Dean Griffiths who headed against the post. Harris and McLennan then combined with McLennan’s fizzing cross on the dewy surface, excellently cleared by Steve Hulbert.

Worton in the visitors’ goal seemed to be struggling with the slick pitch as he fumbled twice in a few minutes when Kovacs and Will Stead shot from outside the box.

Bitton built up some pressure after the half hour and Ian Jeffery had to defend well to deny Ben Bament and Griffiths. In the next attack, Jordan Pinder excelled to block a Bament shot, only for the ball to find its way to McLennan, whose brilliant cross was met by Griffiths and this time his header found the target to open the scoring.

Westbury’s team spirit came to the fore as, rather than be downbeat, they went for an equaliser and fine play by Jamie Jordan set up Demkiv, who forced Worton into a good save.

United’s deserved leveller came on 44; Sayeed Ibrahim played a great ball from the right to Ricky Hulbert beyond the back post who forced it goalwards and can rightfully claim the goal despite a touch off a defender.

The action continued to come thick and fast after the break. It was like a game of pinball in the Bitton penalty area early on, but the defence managed to prevent any shots at goal. McLennan’s great ball to Bament set up a scoring opportunity, but Brandon Sawyer saved brilliantly. Then soon after, more fine work by Steve Hulbert and Jordan Pinder kept Bitton at bay.

The hour mark passed with both teams fully committed to winning the match. Ingram had a low free kick spilled, then claimed by Sawyer, then at the other end, Worton saved from Demkiv.

The visiting defence had to be at their best at the end of a great move between the hosts’ front three, which included a shout for handball being waved away.

Another penalty claim was denied when Kovacs appeared to be taken out as he was about to shoot from a narrow angle, the resulting corner led to Kovacs having an effort blocked, then Steve Hulbert headed wide!

It was then Bitton who stepped up their pressure; Harris crossed to Griffiths who had his header well saved by Sawyer, then Ingram tried a 25 yarder with the ball rebounding to Griffiths, whose swerving strike whizzed just over the bar!

Westbury sensed their opportunity for a tremendous win and got their reward on 84 when Jordan’s ball from the left was met by a great header by Demkiv, which flew into the top corner to make it 2-1!

For the first time, some players’ heads dropped and to United’s credit, it was those from Bitton. They were unable to create any chance to draw level and in fact it could have been dreamland for Demkiv, had Worton not tipped a curling shot wide.