Following the postponement of their scheduled opening match with Paget Rangers due to a sodden pitch at Crown Meadow, AFC Bridgnorth began their league campaign with a midweek away trip to Shawbury United. The game was certainly full of incident, Bridgnorth recovering from an awful start to lead before conceding a last minute equaliser, leaving the final score 3-3. The cruellest blow of all however came in the final minute of injury time as Jordan Graham, making his competitive debut for Bridgnorth, suffered a broken leg that will see him miss a large portion of the season.
It was a nightmare start for Bridgnorth as they fell two goals behind in the opening seven minutes, the first an unmarked header at the backpost from a corner and the second a follow up at close range as a lofted shot from the edge of the box fell kindly after hitting the far post. Bridgnorth soon rallied however, Jordan Graham heading over in the eighth minute before getting on the scoresheet shortly after; a forward pass into Luke Morris allowed the frontman to turn and play Graham through on the overlap, the ball finished under the onrushing ‘keeper. Bridgnorth were now in the ascendancy and looking far more comfortable dealing with the Shawbury attack, eventually equalising in the 26th minute as a throw-in by Matt Dean was flicked on in the box by Chris Sterling, Morris poking the ball under the ‘keeper at close range. Some good Shawbury defending was required to repel a number of dangerous corners delivered by Mark Danks, in particular one flicked away in the 31st minute. In the 38th minute a Shawbury free kick into the box from the left was not properly cleared, leading to a shot that was sliced wide. Bridgnorth then completed the comeback in the 43rd minute, some neat interplay between Danks and Will Reid led to the former cutting inside on the edge of the Shawbury box before curling the ball into the far corner over the outstretched hand of the despairing ‘keeper. In the final minute of the half a dangerous low cross by Graham after good work on the left was just scrambled clear as Bridgnorth looked to add to their lead, halftime arriving at a good time for the hosts who were clearly in need of a regroup. HT 3-2 AFC Bridgnorth.
Shawbury had reorganised themselves during the break and although Bridgnorth had the majority of possession in the second half, Shawbury posed a significant threat on the break. After Bridgnorth failed to convert a good low cross from the left by Morris in the 55th minute, Shawbury had a dangerous cross of their own minutes later that was only lacking a finish. Morris had a shot saved in the 71st minute and Graham was denied by a good tackle in the box a minute later before a cross by substitute Ben Wood somehow evaded everyone at the backpost. Shawbury then had a shot blocked before the Shawbury ‘keeper was off his line smartly twice in quick succession to deny lively substitute Elliott Lee. In the 82nd minute Morris released Dean down the right, his lofted cross to the backpost just out of reach for Graham. Shawbury equalised in the final minute of normal time, a break through the middle of the pitch resulting in the ball dropping to a free Shawbury attacker for a low finish. After the referee indicated eight minutes of injury time, Shawbury were then reduced to ten men as one of their number was sent to the sin bin for dissent. Bridgnorth sensed an opportunity to still win the game and pushed forward threateningly but in the final minute of added time the ball dropped for Graham in the Shawbury box, his shot was well blocked but Graham’s follow through saw him collide with the defender, leaving him severely injured and forcing the referee to end the match immediately. FT 3-3.
All at Bridgnorth wish Jordan a speedy recovery from his injury. The club would also like to place on record it’s thanks to Sports Therapist Nikki for her expertise in taking control of the situation and providing exemplary assistance to Jordan until the Ambulance arrived. In addition, the club also wishes to thank the players, staff and all associated with Shawbury United for their help and sympathy during this distressing incident, many staying for well over an hour whilst awaiting the Ambulance.
Bridgnorth will aim to build on the good parts of their performance and claim their first win of the season as they travel to Smethwick Rangers on Saturday 12th August.