Bridport 1 St Austell 0
FA Cup Extra Qualifying Round replay – att; 212
A SUPERB Ed Butcher strike saw Bridport advance into the next round of the FA Cup in a pulsating game at St Mary’s last night writes Stuart Broom.
This Extra Preliminary Round replay following a 1-1 draw in Cornwall on Saturday was just as enthralling, more so by the fact that AFC St Austell were reduced to 10 men after just 10 minutes following a wild challenge by Liam Eddy on Louis Rutter that left referee Stephen Graham from Southampton with no option but to administer a straight red card.
There seemed little reason for the Lillywhites striker to launch a two-footed tackle from behind as the ball was running towards the corner flag, but Graham, who had a superb game in the middle, was positive with his response and sent him packing.
This was a major blow to the visitors as Eddy, who scored 30 goals for them last year, had already shown what a threat he could be, along with fellow hot shot Mark Goldsworthy scored 61 goals between them last term.
After just 40 seconds he got between the Bees defence and keeper Jason Hutchings to lob his close range effort just over the bar.
In a competitive game played at a good pace, Bridport responded when Butcher tricked his way past two defenders but was thwarted by keeper Jason Chapman, who saved at his feet.
St Austell regrouped following Eddy’s dismissal and they survived a penalty appeal from a corner that appeared to strike a hand, before Andy Martin fired in a 25-yarder that cleared the crossbar.
In general the Bees defence was pretty solid, but Chris Reski went close with a curling shot having been played in by Will Tinsley.
Mark Salter, whose experience once again shone through, headed wide at the far post from Martin’s corner, before the Bees scored what proved to be the winner in the 37th minute.
Awarded a free kick 25-yards out, Martin shaped to curl a ball to the far post, but instead slipped it sideways to Butcher who thumped a glorious low left footer just inside Chapman’s left hand post.
Two minutes later they almost doubled the advantage, but Cameron Andrews’ flick from Butcher’s free kick saw Chapman get down and grab his effort at the second attempt.
The visitors certainly hadn’t given up the fight and continued to keep the Bees on their toes, but midway through the second half they had to thank Chapman for denying Andrews a second time, producing another excellent save at the foot of the post from the youngster’s header.
As the Lillywhites pressed for an equaliser, Bridport found more space, and Salter slide a diagonal pass towards Andrews, but his angled shot just missed the far post.
With two minutes left, St Austell almost grabbed an equaliser when a free kick caused problems in the Bees penalty area, but Goldsworthy was slightly off balance and his close range effort skimmed the crossbar.
Their last opportunity came two minutes into added time but defender Tom Chambers’ attempted volley was straight at Hutchings.
The win, in front of a crowd of 212, sees Bridport pick up a £1,500 for the win and the chance of a further £1,925 with victory in the home tie on Saturday, August 19th against Street who beat Hallen 4-1 in their replay.