MATCH REPORT: Shepton Mallet 1st XI 3, Bridgwater 1st XI 2
Shepton Mallet men’s 1st XI got straight back to winning ways following a heavy defeat to Exeter University as they edged past Bridgwater in the first league meeting between the teams in several years.
With a largely unchanged squad, Shepton and their opponents made effective starts and played some accurate and flowing hockey.
Shepton created the first real chance in the opening seconds with a move that saw Lewis Duchezeau scuff his shot wide.
Bridgwater cleared their lines and created a chance of their own but a stern challenge by Luigi Fauceglia in the Shepton goal deflected the effort past the post.
The visitors employed the long-ball tactic to good effect a number of times in the half but were denied by excellent tackling from Will Shean and a goal-line clearance from Joe Corp.
Shepton absorbed the pressure well and sleek passing eventually led to a chance for Mike Squire, who squared for Duchezeau to round the keeper and push the ball home.
This hard work was undone almost immediately when Shepton gave away a penalty corner, which was thumped home for the equaliser.
Shepton showed excellent resilience and did not let this setback change their game plan, with Jamie Phillips, Simon Hutchinson and Phil White battling hard to retain possession.
This created an opportunity as Jack Patterson sent the ball into the D for Si Lord to deflect past the keeper for his 23rd league goal of the season.
Shepton looked to keep hold of possession more effectively in the second half but Bridgwater refused to give in and pressed effectively to pick up several stray passes.
Poor marking and a momentary lapse in concentration allowed Bridgwater to equalise when a crash ball was poked home at the far post.
Shepton looked for a winner and Mike Reina went on a blistering charge from defence to win a penalty corner. The resulting strike from Hutchinson found its way under the keeper and into the goal.
The hosts went on to create a number of half-chances and won a string of penalty corners but the Bridgwater defence held firm.
Bridgwater also went close to an equaliser in the dying minutes but an excellent double save from Fauceglia earned a deserved win.
Phillips Tyres man of the match: Luigi Fauceglia.
Shepton sit top of Conference South going into the Christmas break.