v Chipping Sodbury Town (Uhlsport Hellenic League, Premier Div – 4 Sept 2021)




At the fifth time of asking in their 2021/22 Uhlsport Hellenic League, Premier Division campaign, Tuffley Rovers finally secured all three points in league fixture, as they scored a late winner to triumph in a five goal thriller against Chipping Sodbury Town.

In contrast to the recent injury problems faced, which had seen him selecting from a depleted squad, Rovers’ manager Rich Cox was able to welcome back a number of players, alongside several debutants. Two of the new starters – Archie Woodall and Brennan Denness-Barrett – had been signed on Work Experience arrangements from Football League side Cheltenham Town, with a third (Josh Aldridge) on the bench. The third debutant was 17-year-old keeper Jack Copland, who had waited patiently for his chance after missing much of the pre-season period.

Buoyed by the return of several players, the new signings and having collected a first league point at Longlevens the previous week, Rovers started very brightly, with the pacy Denness-Barrett prominent, and he set-up the opening goal of the game after just ten minutes.

Having broken the hosts’ attempt to play an offside trap, Denness-Barrett got to the byline on the right-hand side, before pulling the ball back across the goal. Although Warren Mann couldn’t make a connection, the ball did roll straight into the path of Lewis Bainbridge, who was arriving late, on a run from left-back, who smashed the ball home from 8 yards.

It was far from one-way traffic and Copland had to make a smart save to deny Aysa Corrick after 15 minutes, before The Sods’ keeper Brandon Powell made a good stop to keep out Dom Kent’s shot moments after.

Rovers were made to rue the chance that had gone begging three minutes later, when a huge punt from Liam Cann sailed over the visiting defence and left Kye Simpson with all the time in the world to pick his spot a fire home past the helpless Copland, to make it 1-1.

The two sides continued to trade blows, with Joe Shutt going close, before Copland made another good stop to deny Simpson a second goal. Aaron Basford then had another chance for Rovers but fired over when he might have tested Powell. Basford then had another opportunity minutes later but, once again, couldn’t convert the chance and the scores remained level as the sides entered the interval.

Shutt had another good chance moments after the restart but his bicycle kick went narrowly wide after Powell had made a misjudgement when coming for Warren Mann’s cross. From the resultant corner Woodall might have done better with his header but it sailed way over the hosts’ bar.

Rovers were made to pay for their profligacy when, on 56 minutes, Corrick found himself on the end of a swift counter-attack and poked the ball home from close range to make it 2-1.

The previous Monday, at Longlevens, Rovers had shown a courage in the face of adversity by twice coming from behind and they conjured up that spirit again, just moments after Corrick’s goal, when Mann’s corner caught Powell in no man’s land and Basford atoned for his earlier misses by heading home the equaliser from close range.

The game continued to be end-to-end, without either side creating a clear goalscoring opportunity, but Rovers were once again indebted to Copland ten minutes from time when he made an excellent save to keep the scores level. The hosts then wasted a glorious opportunity when Corrick missed from close range when he ought to have scored.

Having collectively breathed a sigh of relief, the games decisive moment followed shortly after, as Denness-Barrett showed tenacity to battle his way through two challenges, before cutting inside and striking a shot across goal and into the net, to make it 3-2. Once again Powell might have kept the ball out but no-one in claret and blue was complaining, as Coxy’s side were able to celebrate a maiden three point haul in the 2021/22 season.