A late Jack Jepson penalty gave Gedling Miners Welfare all 3 points against West Bridgford at Regatta Way on Tuesday evening to end their winless run in the East Midlands Counties League.
Both sides ended with 10-men in a hotly contested affair as Miners pull themselves away from safety.
Despite the early stages of the season, both teams could count this one as a metaphoric six pointer as they sat perilously at the lower end of the table coming into the game. The visitors started the brighter of two and looked to build on their cup success against Arnold Town a week ago and their encouraging performance on Saturday against Sherwood Colliery despite the result and, after only 5 minutes, they made the perfect start.
Emanating from Mason Coy down Gedling’s right, his teasing cross from deep toward the back post was misjudged by Adam Taylor and Jurgen Charlesworth, taking the ball in his stride following some superb control, toed home past Sam Clark to give Gedling the lead against his former club.
West Bridgford came into the game on the back of 4 successive defeats but reacted well to going behind early on. From the restart and after some good play by Will Daly down the left, his cut back to Ed Towers was swept over Lance Walker’s crossbar. 3 minutes later and Luke Smith’s tempting delivery was just out of the reach of Charlie Roberts who had advanced following an earlier foray forward.
The home side, under new management following Ryan Doherty’s appointment at the helm in October, continued to press and looked to level the scoreline as quickly as they lost it. Daly this time went close but couldn’t keep his effort on target following some good play by Joe Terry after the quarter hour. A minute later and, following a scramble in the visiting area and some hesitant defending, Bijan Pakrouz, another facing his former side, couldn’t adjust and skewed wide.
Hoping to put recent form behind them, Gedling started to get a foothold in the game and restricted their hosts to mainly half chances. With 25 minutes played, Aboubacar Sylla found space after being found with a short set piece from Smith but, after cutting inside with a typical deke, his effort was wayward and never troubled Clark. 4 minutes later and Smith, adopting a more direct approach, tested the resolve of the defence with a wonderful cross and Sam Perrin could only watch in hope as his misdirected header floated over his own woodwork.
Gedling looked good for the lead and, despite both sides showing promise when in possession and with a feisty edge, never looked troubled in the opening exchanges. Shortly after the half hour, the tireless Jack Jepson found himself in behind Rick Benwell and the striker was hauled down by the experienced skipper but referee Simon Swain waved any protests away as questions were asked.
West Bridgford began to settle after a nervy start and, as the half edged toward its close, started to create more going forward. They looked for the lively front trio of Daly, Towers and Matt Murphy who slowly entered the fray with a flurry of chances.
Following a deep set piece by Nick Labatte on 34 minutes, Benwell found space to flick to Murphy and his improvised header found the onrushing Pakrouz who fired over the bar in what was his side’s best move of the game.
Not long after Towers whipped in a delightful cross from the right that troubled Walker who did well to ensure his angles were met as he tipped for a corner at his near post.
Now enjoying some success in the latter stages of the half, the home side looked to reduce the arrears heading into the break. 8 minutes from time, Daly and Murphy combined well again but the striker couldn’t keep his effort down. 2 minutes later and Pakrouz, finding space between the lines, stung the hands of Walker who did well to hold the testing shot from range.
Defending an always precarious lead, Gedling looked to emulate the start they made to the game as both sides began the second period in cagey manner.
The first noteworthy opportunity came 8 minutes after the restart and Jepson again found time and space in behind but Perrin, retreating well, did enough to stop the talisman adding to his 7 goals this season. A minute later and Perrin was nearly rewarded with his efforts at the other end as he met a dangerous Labatte cross but his header was deflected over.
By this stage, both sides were wholehearted in their approach and, whilst within the rules, did their best to tie each other down. However, the game was turned on its head in the 55th minute.
After being cautioned earlier in the match for dissent, Smith, in an attempt to thwart Pakrouz’s mazy run, mistimed his tackle and, without any real malice, caught the midfielder and Simon Swain made no hesitation in giving Smith his marching orders with a second bookable offence.
With a man advantage, West Bridgford started to slowly come back into the game with the lion share of possession but, such are the characteristics of Gedling, were left exasperated by a valiant and resilient defensive unit. The visitors went close to extending their lead but Mason Coy’s effort just after the hour was straight at Clark.
As time ticked, the home side continued to enjoy more of the ball and set about ensuring the final 20 minutes for Gedling were pinned deep in their own third. Shortly before the 70th minute, substitute Ross McParland did well to evade the challenges of 3 but, after pouncing on a loose ball from Reiss Coy aimed for brother Mason, couldn’t keep his effort on target and the ball sailed wide.
5 minutes later and Perrin again found himself on the end of a cross, this time from Towers, but his effort, via a knock down, was sliced over much to his dismay.
However, only a minute later and they had the best chance to level as, following some good interplay between Pakrouz and Taylor, the latter was clattered in the area by Dwayne Brown and Mr. Swain pointed to the spot under no real protest.
Murphy stepped up and calmly slotted the ball past Walker, guessing correctly with his efforts, into the bottom corner to equalise.
As the teams entered the final stages, the game was hotly contested as both sides gave full commitment to respective causes. Not long after conceding, a fine cross from Ross McCaughey was narrowly flicked wide by Courtney Hastings, replacing Mason Coy for the final 10 minutes, as Gedling’s intention of taking a much needed 3 points back to Plains Road was evidential.
Not being deterred by the even scoreline, both sides continued to push forward looking for the late winner and, in the dying seconds, Gedling had the chance to snatch the game from the home side with late drama.
After a fairly innocuous ball was pumped forward by Joe Meakin, Sylla, racing forward, went beyond the indecisive pairing of Perrin and Terry and the wide man was pulled from behind by the latter as the referee, following a minor discussion with his assistant, pointed to the spot to give Miners a chance to end their 8 consecutive defeats in the league.
Following a lengthy delay in which the aggrieved West Bridgford put forth their complaints, Jepson sent Clark the wrong way and slammed the ball home into the corner to give his side a much needed win recent performances have certainly warranted. Subsequently, Labatte was giving his marching orders for his second yellow card of the game for what appeared to be prolonged dissent after the penalty was awarded.
A dogged and spirited away performance gave Gedling their first win in 9 as their winless run ended with a local derby victory. They will look to build on this on Saturday (17th November) as Rainworth Miners Welfare visit Plains Road in the East Midlands Counties League, kick off 3pm.
Following success last week against Arnold Town in the second round of the Notts Senior Cup, Gedling will host Central Midlands North Division outfit Collingham at Plains Road in the third round, date and time to be announced.