Skett 37, Veale 60


Gape 48

BRAVE Bridport pushed Southern League side Willand Rovers close but eventually exited the FA Cup extra preliminary round with a 2-1 defeat at the Stan Robinson Stadium.

Jamie Manley’s Bees had been given one of the toughest possible draws but his squad performed commendably against good opposition.

Bridport were restricted to long-range shots and corners in the first half, and Willand eventually made the breakthrough in the 37th minute.

Willand had been met by a resolute Bees defence until an incisive ball down the left wing unhinged the back line, with Mani Skett getting across his man to convert the cross.

Bridport equalised three minutes after the restart as Sol Ayunga reacted quickest to a corner, teeing up Will Gape to slam home for 1-1.

Willand scored from an identical corner on the hour, as Craig Veale collected the loose ball and lashed an effort past away keeper Scott Wells-Burr on the turn.

Bridport pushed for a second leveller as Ayunga saw a shot saved before Dec Cornish cut inside and fizzed an effort narrowly wide.

Willand forced Wells-Burr into two good saves but Bridport came closest to scoring at the death as a corner smuggled its way into the box, only for a spooked Willand to hack clear.

Speaking post-match, Manley insisted the Bees could now reproduce the same level of performance throughout the league season.

He said: “It was a good game, every one of them worked their socks off and put a good shift in.

“That’s all we can ask – as long as they gave their all for the shirt. We rode our luck at times, but we also created chances ourselves and could’ve nicked another goal.

“We were under no illusion it was a tough ask. Yes, they’re a league above us and had that extra quality at times, but the lads performed really well.

“The team spirit is coming through now and it’s going to keep on going. Especially after Saturday’s performance (5-0 loss to Sherborne), it was chalk and cheese to that.”

Nathan Warren was named Bees’ man-of-the-match for a bustling display in midfield.

“He did really well – got booked early on as well,” Manley said. “We thought he could’ve been sent off but he tracked back and played really well, he set the standard.”

Bridport now visit Cribbs on Saturday (3pm) for their Toolstation Western League Premier Division opener.

Bees: Wells-Burr, King, Haines, Lock, Butcher, Owen (Wood 67), Cornish (Weedon 78), Warren, Ayunga, Gape (Westlake 67), Leader. Sub not used: Holmes.