Wiltshire Publications

Narrow defeat despite early lead

Story posted on

Sat. 25 January. Toolstation Prem. Div. Bitton 2 Westbury United 1

On a cold and foggy day, Westbury made the trip  to Bristol to play Bitton. With only 4 points separating them in the league table at kick off, this one promised to be a close battle.  

Due to injuries and suspensions, there were a few changes to the Westbury starting lineup. Jordan Pinder was starting his 150th game for Westbury United in his favoured centre midfield slot alongside skipper Steve Hulbert and there was a slight change of shape, with Stradling and Griffiths starting out on the wings in what started as a 4-4-2. 

It only took six minutes for Westbury to show their intent, Demkiv broke free towards the right hand side of the penalty area and was brought down with a foul, the referee awarded a free kick which Ryan Bole stepped up to take. His inch-perfect free kick was struck low and hard, curling around the wall and into the net to give Westbury an early lead. 

Bitton drew level just before the quarter hour mark from a set piece of their own. The ball came in from the left and wasn’t cleared effectively by the Westbury defence, an over head kick inside the area kept the ball alive for Bitton and they forced the ball home. Westbury appealed for a high foot, but the referee explained why it wasn’t given. 

Another good Westbury chance was wasted when Henley’s cross was tamely delivered into the Bitton goalkeeper’s hands. This was followed by an excellent delivery from Bole in the wide left position. Pinder found himself unmarked in the centre of the six yard box but the Bitton keeper was quick to react and give Pinder a happy 150th appearance punch in the head. Stradling, Ricky Hulbert and Demkiv were all causing trouble and if it wasn’t by some excellent positioning and tackling by the Bitton right back, Westbury might have been able to get back in front. Bitton finished the half the stronger, forcing a good save from Baldy. 

Westbury had a good start to the second half, however Bitton’s defence held together well, which helped them to grow in confidence, Dan Jordan and Dan Price were doing their best at centre back to keep them out but on the 66th minute Bitton had an attack that came in from their left which pulled Westbury’s defence side to side and then a late arriving midfielder applied the finishing touch to make it 2-1 to the home team. 

Louis Wilkins came on for Ricky Hulbert, who had done well to last so long with his groin still not fully recovered. Wilkins was straight into the action, giving the Bitton back line something a little bit different to think about, but they were up for the fight and manhandled young Wilkins and Demkiv to keep them away from their goal. Westbury were dealt another injury late on. Dan Jordan’s hamstring went when sprinting; it didn’t look good and could see him miss a month or two of football. 

Westbury failed to create any decent chances, as Bitton stood strong, until the last minute of the game when the referee awarded another freekick, this time on the left, but a similar angle to the one which Bole had scored earlier. Henley delivered the ball, but Westbury’s attackers couldn’t make anything of it. 

Star Man: Ryan Bole. Team: Baldy, Henley, Bole, D.Jordan, Price, S.Hulbert (c), Griffiths, Pinder, R.Hulbert, Demkiv, Stradling. Subs: Wilkins, Salter (used) Kirkpatrick, Smith, Porter (unused)

Greg Coulson