v Brimscombe & Thrupp (Uhlsport Hellenic League, Premier Division – 18 Sept 2021)




Tuffley Rovers’ recent run of good form came to a grinding halt as they succumbed to a 5-1 defeat away at Brimscombe & Thrupp, on another injury disrupted afternoon at The Meadow.

When Rich Cox confirmed the starting line-up for the fixture he revealed five changes from the side that had won the FA Vase tie at Malmesbury Victoria the previous weekend. Laurie McNally was only fit enough for a place on the bench, Liam Smith and Sam Mendes were relegated to substitute roles, while Harry Walker and Aaron Basford were unavailable. In came Josh Aldridge, Brennan Denness-Barrett, Archie Woodall, Joe Shutt and Dom Kent.

Neither side really carved out any clear chances in the early stages of the game and there was not much between the sides in the first half an hour, although the hosts were looking more likely to create an opening and Jack Copland had to be alert on a couple of occasions, twice holding onto dangerous looking crosses under pressure.

From the next testing ball, the young Rovers keeper did well to keep the ball away from Brimscombe’s Jonty Welch but he picked up on injury in doing so and shortly after he had to be withdrawn. Fortunately for Cox he was able to call upon Callum Brain as a replacement.

Unfortunately for Brain, he had no time to settle into the game and within two minutes he was beaten, as the hosts opened the scoring, when Jack Smith was afforded to much space, turned and fired the ball low into the net on 35 minutes.

Seven minutes later Xander Jones, who had been in imperious form during the season to date, made an error, as he failed to clear and could only strike the ball against an opposing player, and Harlie Price ran through unchallenged before hammering a shot past Brain and into the net.

Moments later the in-form Harry Morgan became Rovers’ second injury victim of the afternoon and he was forced out of the game with Sam Mendes his replacement.

Given the injury disruption it was perhaps a welcome relief to Cox that half-time came moments later, affording him the opportunity to assess the damage, with Rovers trailing 2-0.

The second period was not entirely dissimilar to the first and there wasn’t much between the sides, in terms of chances or possession, but Cox’s plan for the afternoon was further disrupted when Dom Kent picked up an impact injury and was unable to continue.

There didn’t appear to be an immediate impact, as Denness-Barrett drew a save from Gavin Jones in the Brimscombe goal, whilst Woodall should perhaps have scored but his header from 4 yards out was straight at Jones and comfortably held.

That was to prove a pivotal moment in the game, as just moments later Brimscombe all but sealed the victory. Brain did well to keep out an effort from Smith but from the resultant corner, Price rose highest and his header sailed beyond the Rovers keeper and into the net.

On 77 minutes Lewis Bainbridge dallied on the ball and once Price stole in to take possession the young Rovers full-back was too hasty in his attempt to win the ball back and his foul lead to an inevitable penalty kick which Ollie Pitt  buried into the bottom corner.

As the game moved into the closing moments, Dean Turner then made a well-timed charge through on goal and although Brain made a good block, Rovers’ afternoon was perhaps summed up as the ball looped high into the air before dropping into the net.

That wasn’t the end of the scoring and with virtually the final kick of the game Denness-Barrett latched onto a loose ball 12 yards out and drove a low shot into the bottom corner of the hosts’ net, to give the visitors a consolation, albeit one that counted for little and will simply be a minor statistic in a very disappointing 5-1 defeat.