MERLINS Bridge opened up a three-point gap at the top of the Pembrokeshire League Division 1 table on Saturday (Nov 26) as they beat Goodwick United 3-2 at Pheonix Park.
It was an excellent and, at times, feisty game, but two late goals for the Wizards gave them victory and also inflicted a first defeat of the season on Goodwick.
The game was one of a handful to be played in Pembrokeshire despite strong winds and persistent rain. It made things extremely difficult for both teams.
It was Goodwick who took the lead in the first half as Nathan Greene scored but Merlins Bridge equalised on the stroke of half time through Sam Christopher.
The first half finished with the score at 1-1 and it was still all to play for in the second half.
Seven minutes in to the half, Goodwick were dealt a blow when Greene was shown a second yellow card and subsequent red.
Despite that the home side went ahead on the hour mark with Johnny Horgan getting the goal having only come on as a sub moments earlier.
The Bridge were now looking to get back into the game while 10-man Goodwick would have hoped to hold on to their lead.
There was a free kick for the Wizards which was saved while at the other end, Steven Dockerty saw a shot go over.
Goodwick were dealt a further blow with thirteen minutes to go as Luke Hayward was shown a second yellow card for a sliding challenge as he looked to win the ball.
Merlins Bridge could now sense an opportunity with the hosts down to nine men and from the ensuing free kick they won a corner. When it wasn’t cleared the ball fell to Jamie Palmer who fired in to level the game.
There was a nervy moment for Goodwick as keeper James Gwilt spilled a high ball onto the bar and it bounced down onto the line but he was able to get back and punch away before Leahy could poke the ball in.
Two minutes later Alfie Stottor found Joe Leahy who shot from just outside the box and the ball nestled in the bottom right corner of the goal.
That sparked wild scenes of celebration amongst the visiting team but there was still time for Goodwick to respond.
As the Bridge looked to run the clock down a scuffle broke out in the corner of the pitch which resulted in Merlins Bridge’s Joe Leahy and Alfie Stottor both being sent off. Goodwick keeper James Gwilt was also booked for his part.
It meant the game would finish 9v9 but there was no more action and the Wizards held on for an excellent win.
On Saturday, December 3, Goodwick are in action in the third round of the West Wales Cup as they host Rockspur FC.
Merlins Bridge are in league action on Saturday as they welcome Neyland to the Pembrokeshire Sports Village.