Bonn appetite – Josh the clincher in tasty collision
Ryman Division 1 South Walton & Hersham 1 Three Bridges 0
A FINE opportunist goal by man of the match Josh Bonnett sealed Walton & Hersham’s second win in five days, easing them into a much more secure midtable place, writes John Whitbread.
It was not just his goal, but also Bonnett’s tireless work-rate that inspired his colleagues in a feisty affair that saw two men sent off, a penalty missed, and eight minutes of nerve-jangling stoppage time. The game should have been settled long before then, with Swans’ only fault being their inability to take a host of scoring chances. Meanwhile, hosts’ Gary Ross did not have a real save to make throughout the match. But that was only because several on-target efforts were denied by determined defenders throwing themselves in front of the ball to block, head or kick away. The only blot on the landscape was the unsavoury incident right on half time when striker Andrew Mensah was sent off for his second bookable offence when he retaliated to a stamp just outside the Three Bridges area. Then as he was sent off, a furious Mensah landed a right hander on one of the opponents milling around him. “We will deal with the matter seriously,” said manager Tony Reid. “Andrew let himself and the club down by getting himself sent off. “I know all too well that as a striker you have to get used to defenders stamping on your ankles and getting away with it. The only way to respond is to pick yourself up and score a goal. “He should not have raised his hand to slap an opponent, but as he was walking off one of their players tapped him on the head to wind him up. “Even the referee reprimanded their player for antagonising him.” Reid was much happier with his team’s reaction to the sending off and their total commitment and improved organisation. “I know this team will create plenty of chances,” he said. “But we had to learn to be much tighter all round, especially in the opening 15 minutes. The boys are now defending really well in every area and are battling so hard for each other, putting their bodies on the line. “I was really happy to see Josh get a big round of applause when he came off near the end. “He had come knocking on my door after not being involved in the early games and now his chance has come he has taken it really well. He has earned a bit of a reputation for being a temperamental player, but he has really turned it around this year and he ran himself into the ground.” Bonnett began the game firing just wide before Mensah was unfortunate not to be awarded a penalty when he appeared to be brought down just inside the area. Vernon Francis and Andrew Juett both missed good chances before Mensah had a low drive well saved by Keiron Thorp. But in the 43rd minute Three Bridges were given a penalty when Mensah and Alan Tait tumbled together in the box, only for Jamie Crown to hammer the spot kick wide.
Frustration clearly played a part in Mensah’s dismissal just a few minutes later, but the home team had to wait only until the 52nd minute for Three Bridges to be reduced to 10 men when Tony Garrod got his marching orders for a second bookable offence, scything down Louis Clark as he attempted to make a clearance. By then Walton had taken the lead when Bonnett pounced on a hashed clearance by Thorp and jinked past two defenders before firing low into the right corner of the net. Rogers did well to prevent Swans adding to their score, with fine saves to deny Andre Scarlett and substitute Louis GlacePalmer who spent the final 15 minutes tormenting Three Bridges’ defenders.