Brocton 3 Pilkington XXX 3
NEWLY crowned Midland Combination Premier champions Brocton were given a guard of honour by visitors Pilkington XXX as they entered the field at Silkmore Lane on Saturday.
But having paid their respects the visitors began the match with a determination that showed they were after three points at the champions expense.
In the seventh minute Pilkington dispossessed Brocton in midfield and sent Dimetri Brown away and he was able to use his pace to beat the defence and produce a clinical finish to put his side 1-0 up.
Brocton tried to get back on terms but Brown threatened twice more in the opening quarter. The Badgers best move was started by Dave Berks and saw Dave Ablewhite feed Sam Bell for a trademark run down the right. He pulled the ball back to Gary Fife but under severe pressure his shot went over the bar. Then a cross from Seb Hamilton just eluded Fife on the far post.
In Brocton’s next attack a Fife shot was pushed round the post by keeper Reece Francis and from the resulting corner Berks drilled wide from the edge of the penalty area.
At the other end Odane Barnes jinked his way into the box to create himself a shooting opportunity from eight yards which Whitehouse did well to save with his feet. On 40 minutes Whitehouse again saved with his feet to deny Gareth Davis when he met a deep cross at the far post.
On 43 minutes Pilkington got their reward when Tom Rankin’s right wing cross was headed in by Odane Barnes on the near post to give the visitors a two goal cushion at the interval.
The Badgers showed their attacking intent at the start of the second half. Bell had a good run down the right but his cross into the box eluded everyone. His next run was halted with a foul by Davis and a superbly flighted free kick from skipper Berks was nodded in by Fife in the 49th minute.
Brocton attacked again and Hamilton crashed a shot against the bar. In the resulting melee Hamilton has some studs raked down his leg and kicked out in retaliation leaving referee Mark Murfitt with no option but to show the Brocton striker a red card.
On 58 minutes Paul McMahon replaced Dan Lomas and shortly afterwards Matt Skinner was replaced by Jamie Evans as boss John Berks gambled with three at the back.
The switch paid off and mid-way through the half the ten men drew level when Pilkington fullback Davis allowed Dave Berks’s precision pass over his head and it was latched onto by Bell whose cross was headed in at the near post by McMahon.
The Badgers joy was short lived however as Davis redeemed himself by heading a deep cross back across goal for Odane Barns to nod Pilkington back in front just a minute later.
On 75 minutes a Pilkington attack ended when the ball was gathered by Whitehouse. The alert keeper quickly punted the ball down field where McMahon and Bell outpaced the Pilkington defence and the latter crashed the ball past Francis to make it 3-3.
A minute later Brocton looked like taking the lead as they queued up to take shots only to be denied by the post, the keeper and a goal line clearance.
In the closing stages Francis made a fantastic save with his feet to keep out a shot from McMahon who had been sent clear by Fife but at the end a draw was a fair result.
On Monday McMahon gave Studley a lesson in finishing scoring all four goals as Brocton ran our 4-1 winners in their penultimate match of the season.
This Saturday Brocton are away to Alvis in their final game of the season while the reserves, who won 4-1 at Cadbury Athletic on Saturday, are at home to Sutton United (both games kick off at 3pm)