In the end it was just one game too many for a shattered Shortwood side playing in their 64th game of a long and arduous season. Take nothing away from Manor Farm they were excellent on the night and in the second half were totally ruthless in their execution. John Evans reflected: “It was a game too far for the lads, there was nothing in their legs and no one performed to their usual standard. Bristol were by far the better side on the night and thoroughly deserved their win!”
In the very first minute Bristol broke through and a sliding block from Axton prevented Clarke, who was excellent all evening, from getting his shot away. Shortwood started to exert some early pressure and Bohane whipped in an excellent cross which was just taken off Mortlock’s head at the expense of a corner. The Bristol side were already showing what a good side they are on the break and they passed with a fluency and speed one would normally associate with Shortwood. For all that, Shortwood had good early chances – Coates powered a header just too high, Thomas headed wide and Bohane almost got on the end of a Haddock through ball. Slowly but surely however the Bristol side started to dominate, forcing Shortwood back and they became reliant on the break away to relieve pressure. Chances started to mount up – Feltham shot straight at King, Clarke and Feltham shot narrowly wide and Murray headed a good chance over. When they did get the ball forward Wood looked dangerous and Tustain went close with a header and just before the break a mix up in the defence gave Slack and Bohane chances to shoot but the efforts were blocked by good defending.
With the game goal less at the break Shortwood were hopeful for an early break through but it was Manor Farm who opened the scoring after 48 minutes. A great free kick flew into the Wood box and Murray soared high to head home. Wood’s response was immediate and a Tustain cross was somehow cleared from under the bar with Slack pressing. Singh and Benneyworth came on to change things around but it was Bristol who added a second after 61 minutes as a well worked move left Fitzpatrick with the opportunity to shoot past King – although the shot was deflected home. Casey replaced Axton but with 20 minutes to go Shortwood were down to 10 men as Benneyworth limped out of the action.
Manor Farm exploited the space ruthlessly. Wood were sliced to ribbons as the ball was passed at speed around them and Feltham scored with a diving header with 78 minutes gone and Casey was fortunate to receive only a yellow card for a reckless challenge.
Two further goals in the last 5 minutes were the icing on the cake as far as Manor Farm were concerned and they justifiably celebrated their victory while Shortwood were left to reflect that this game was just one game too many.
Team: King, Coates, Bennett, Axton (Casey 66), Thomas, Baldwin, Tustain (Singh 56), Slack, Bohane, Mortlock (Benneyworth 56), Haddock