This local derby attracted a bumper crowd of 235 to the AJN Stadium, not just because the two clubs are only a couple of miles apart, but also because it was the only match on for miles around. Say what you like about 3G pitches, local football supporters at least had something to watch.
There were two changes in the Keynsham team from last week’s win against Cadbury Heath, Matt Dunk replaced the missing Ash Clark in goal and Stef Lee came in for Cam Ricketts. Harley Purnell made a welcome return to the squad as did Adey Harvey after his suspension.
Keynsham were buoyed by consecutive away victories at Cribbs and Cadbury Heath and started the stronger into the wind and good approach play by Jamie Noble enabled Matt Brown to turn and shoot, but just inches wide. Bitton had the ball in the net after six minutes when a defensive mistake allowed Oaklan Buck through on goal, but he was ruled to be offside. Jamie Noble struck a low, hard shot just wide and had another cleared off the line from point-blank range. Troy Walters, operating first down the left flank and then the right caused Bitton many problems and had a header just clear the crossbar.
Bitton struck back when Joseph Mclennan cut in from the left but his shot was well saved by Matt Dunk, playing his first game in goal for the Ks since September. Stef Lee made the best chance for the home team when he took the ball round Bitton’s keeper Rob Brown and his shot across the face of an empty goal went agonisingly in front of the advancing Keynsham forwards. Oaklan Buck was denied a shooting chance when advancing into the penalty area by a good tackle from Mike Grist.
Having looked the more dangerous in the first half, Keynsham turned around in the second with their backs to the wind, but never really took advantage of it. In fact, it was Bitton who pushed harder for the opening goal. Mclennan advanced down Bitton’s left flank and crossed the ball to substitute Karim Randall who tried to back-heel the ball into the net. He never really connected with it and it was probably easier to side foot the ball into the net. Troy Walters whipped a ball into Bitton’s penalty area and Stef Lee in trying to convert it, lost out after a collision with goalkeeper Brown. Bitton’s Mclennan had another good shot saved by Dunk before the same fate fell to another effort from Matt Groves.
When Stef Lee appeared to have been fouled in Bitton’s penalty area, shouts from the home crowd for a penalty were turned down. The resulting corner found Mike Grist whose header went wide.
During the second half news filtered through that the only other Western League match that had started at Devizes had been abandoned. Thank goodness for good, old plastic, but don’t tell David Attenborough!
Just when the crowd were saying the immortal words, ‘This one’s got nil-nil written all over it’, Bitton took the lead. It was 40 minutes into the second half when Karim Randall showed some skilful work, bringing the ball through the centre and found Matt Groves unmarked on the right who controlled the ball and rifled it into the roof of the net, giving Matt Dunk no chance.
Worse fate then befell the home team when Stef Lee was sent off after a scuffle with Bitton’s goalkeeper Rob Brown. Matt Brown had a header just wide of the target when two minutes into stoppage time Keynsham forced a corner. It was taken by Harley Purnell, coming off the bench late on it was good to see our creative midfielder back on the pitch. He hit the kick from the leftstrongly to the far side of the penalty area and Mike Grist met it with a powerful header back into the top, right hand corner.
There were no outstanding performances today, but both teams tried to play good, attacking football despite the wind and the rain swirling around the AJN Stadium. Neither side however, good take advantage of the wind in their backs and played the better, more attacking football against it. Matt Groves and early substitute Karim Randall (on for the injured Josh Egan) always looked dangerous for Bitton as did Troy Walters for Keynsham and Mike Grist crowned a good defensive performance for the home side with a well-deserved equaliser.
Report by Mike Slucutt
|1 Matt Dunk||1 Rob Brown|
|2 George Rooke||2 Gerrard Robinson|
|3 Danny Lock||3 Callum Ball|
|4 Mike Grist ©||4 Scott Brice ©|
|5 Jordan Anstey||5 Alexander Grimshaw|
|6 Scott Saunders||6 Ashley Williams|
|7 Jamie Noble||7 Joseph Mclennan|
|8 Matt Long||8 Ibrahima Diallo|
|9 Matt Brown||9 Oaklan Buck|
|10 Stef Lee||10 Josh Egan|
|11 Troy Walters||11 Matt Groves|
|12 Harley Purnell||12 Karim Randall|
|14 Sam Downes||14 William Fletcher|
|15 Tauren Williams||15 Jordan Whittaker|
|16 Adey Harvey||16 Matthew Tanner|
|17 Luke Bamfield||17 Harrison Kyte|
Referee: Andy Hobbs. Assistants: Shane Dash and Stephen Kay.