Millbrook 3-3 Bridgwater

Sep 27, 2021

MILLBROOK don’t do dull. But on Saturday they were left feeling they had just scored the goal of the century only to see it ruled out by VAR.

There they were, cruising into the last 20 minutes with a 3-0 lead, having played some of their best football of their inaugural Western League Premier season.

The sky was blue and there was absolutely no sign of the storm which was about to sweep across Jenkins Park.

But two incidents in the 73rd minute destroyed the calm.

Bridgwater were awarded a penalty when Millbrook keeper James Morley brought down Morgan Williams and while supporters waited to see whether Morley would be shown yellow or red, the referee was distracted by another incident.

Millbrook’s giant central defender Dave Youldon had kicked the ball away when the spot kick was given, and the official saw that as dissent and ordered him to the sin-bin.

Morley escaped any punishment apart from being beaten by Taylor’s penalty. But even then, it felt like only a consolation for a Bridgwater side who had struggled to find their form.

Not so. Youldon’s departure introduced a level of unnecessary panic from 10-man Millbrook and the visitors took advantage with Archie Sturdy reducing the arrears to 3-2 with 11 minutes left.

Bridgwater now fancied their chances, even with Youldon returning to the fray, and when striker Rikki Shepherd, back in the penalty area covering, nudged Taylor it was enough for the referee to point to the spot.

Taylor picked himself up to make it 3-3 with five minutes to go and the dying stages were played out like a mad cup tie. The ref’s final whistle was a relief to the ball.

Millbrook had swept ahead in the 27th minute with a superb goal. A sweeping move along the left wing involving Tom Payne, Sam Morcom and Jake Foster led to Jack Wood passing the ball into the net.

Five minutes later it was 2-0 with Shepherd finishing off from close range after a mad scramble around the penalty spot.

And just before the break, Foster raced clear along the left, his pace taking him away from two defenders, and when he reached the byline, he played the ball back into the path of Shepherd, who gleefully hammered it home.

The way they were playing, you just couldn’t see anything but a Millbrook victory. The football gods thought otherwise.

Millbrook boss Mackenzie Brown said: “Football can take your emotions to the very brink at both ends of the scale in the same game, it’s why we love the game so much and why nothing beats it.
“But when you’re on the receiving end of games like that it’s difficult to swallow. We’ve obviously been on the positive side of similar situations this season with a few comebacks so we have to take it on the chin.
“Full credit to Bridgwater for showing the character to come back because we know what it takes to do that, even if we did gift it to them with a couple of penalties.
“We were absolutely fantastic for an hour or so. The first half we were untouchable and thoroughly deserved the 3-0 lead at half time.
“We said all the right things at the break and came out and started well, had a goal disallowed to make it 4-0 and we didn’t look like really conceding. Then in another moment of madness the game just switched up.
“To concede a penalty and lose a player to the sin bin at the same time was obviously the game changer.”

Of the Youldon sin bin decision, Brown said: “I have to say after most of their players were swearing at the referee during the game and when he failed to send one of them off for pushing over Rikki, to then sin bin our player for ‘kicking the ball away’ after the penalty was given?
“It was like the Van Persie one in Barca all those years ago, but it’s little things like that that are going against us this season.
“We didn’t manage the 10 minutes well at all, I actually believe sin bins are tougher psychologically than straight red cards for the players.
“The concept of counting down the time brings desperation and we lacked leadership and composure in that moment and I include myself in that.”