By Daniel Dyson, UBAFC journalist and second year Politics and French student
A dramatic last-minute goal from centre-back Bertie Lloyd gave Bristol 1s a 2-1 victory against Cardiff Met 2s and moved them level on points at the top of Men’s Western 1A football league.
After an unexpected defeat in their first game of the season, Bristol had been closer to their best in the next two games, taking four points from a possible six, and hoped to continue their form at home to winless Cardiff Met on Wednesday 31 October.
Bristol dominated the game’s opening stages, passing the ball with composure whilst Cardiff Met hardly had a touch and when they did, they resorted to long balls, easily dealt with by Bristol.
Bristol were dreadfully unlucky not to be ahead just before the half-hour mark when Jasper Harlington was put through for a one-on-one but had a shot well saved before Matt Hinks and Will Gale both had close-range shots blocked by desperate Cardiff Met defending.
The home side remained firmly on top and didn’t have to wait long for their next chance as a minute later, some great work from Gale freed striker Toby Thomas, whose shot hit the side-netting.
Ten minutes later, dazzling footwork from Harlington on the right-wing opened up space for a shot, forcing the keeper into a low save. A clever training-ground routine from the resulting corner resulted in captain Jack Haire’s shot being blocked.
The best moment of the first-half came minutes before the break when Thomas turned brilliantly near the half-way line, made his way into the box, weaving through four Cardiff Met players in the process, before shooting narrowly wide at the near post.
A well-saved Gale strike from distance brought an end to a goalless first half which Bristol would have been disappointed not to have scored in given their numerous, unconverted chances and the fact that goalkeeper Ross Cusdin was rarely troubled.
However, early in the second half, Bristol gave away a free-kick on the edge of their box which was fired into the corner to give Cardiff Met a 1-0 lead in the 53rd minute, with their first meaningful effort on goal.
Bristol’s manager, Alan Tyers, wasted no time in reacting to going behind and brought off centre-back Gabriel Smith for Finn Racadio, who formed a back-three with Lloyd and Josh Norris, whilst right-back Harry Cruttenden was pushed up the pitch alongside Ed Mahoney and Haire.
The tactical switch signalled Bristol’s attacking intent and they nearly found an equaliser after an hour when Thomas had a one-on-one saved by the keeper before the follow-up was somehow cleared off the line by Cardiff Met.
The home side's persistence paid off three minutes later when Thomas blocked the goalkeeper’s clearance and the ball fell to Hinks, who calmly slotted the ball away to level the game at 1-1.
Immediately after, Bristol almost grabbed a second as a bending shot from Cruttenden was saved, shortly before the bright Toby Thomas was replaced by Chris Speed.
The only noteworthy event of the next fifteen minutes came courtesy of man of the match Norris, when he brought the ball out from defence and performed a sensational roulette to get past two Cardiff Met players, but Bristol’s end product was again lacking.
With ten minutes left and Bristol unable to break through Cardiff Met’s defence, Gale was replaced by centre-back Ollie Pooler and the towering Bertie Lloyd was sent up front in search of the three points needed to ensure the league’s leading pack didn’t stretch too far away at the top of the table.
Despite this change, a late winner seemed unlikely since Cardiff Met defended with all eleven men behind the ball and restricted Bristol to half-chances as the game entered stoppage time.
Just as all hope seemed lost, the ball was worked to Hinks on the right-wing, whose floated cross into the box was met by Lloyd, who bullied the defender beneath him and fired a header beyond the helpless keeper and into the back of the net.
The 96th minute winner was the game’s last action and the final whistle was met with wild celebrations from the Bristol faithful as dozens stormed onto the pitch.
6 wins for all teams at @ubafcofficial last night!— Vita Student (@vitastudent) November 1, 2018
Well done to all the boys! A never been done before victory 💪🏻🎉👌🏻⚽️ #winner #beginbig pic.twitter.com/20J0W6DohY
The hero Lloyd remained grounded afterwards and told Epigram, 'I’m just happy to get the three points. The lads are staying humble and focused at the moment' although he joked that, 'it was a great feeling to score again, maybe I should be up top more often!'
Bristol will be hoping to stretch their winning run to three games on Wednesday 7 November when they travel away to fellow league-leaders Southampton 1s.
Featured image: Epigram / Daniel Dyson
Do you think that Bristol 1s are now building momentum towards a title charge? Let us know!