Brad Martin’s header right on half time secured Bishops Cleeve a crucial three points as they beat Abingdon United 1-0, at Kayte Lane this afternoon – in a big result at both ends of the table.
The Mitres were going into the game after beating their opponents away from home just 7 days ago, as well as a GFA Trophy Quarter Final win in midweek. They knew that a win would keep them in amongst the pack challenging for the Hellenic Premier title.
The hosts started quickly, with winger Jack Watts firing off target twice in the opening five minutes and Adam Mace have a shot from the edge of the box well saved by Jake Pritchard in the Abingdon goal.
With quarter of an hour on the clock Mace delivered a superb ball in from the right, but Kevin Slack could only guide his header wide. Slack then hit the side netting from the edge of the box minutes later after a beautiful knock down by Martin.
Just before the half hour mark, Kevin Slack and Zak Eadie were cautioned for a bit of afters following Slack fouling Abingdon centre back Joe Green. The Bishops Cleeve bench were incensed by the decision as there was an alleged headbutt thrown in Slack’s direction.
As Abindgon thought they were going into the break level, Aaron Drake combined well with Jack Watts down the left before crossing perfectly to the back post where Martin was waiting to head the Mitres in front – with his 21st goal of the season.
After the break Abingdon started the half quicker and livelier than Cleeve and manager Stephen Cleal was audibly frustrated with how the half began.
A great spell of possession for the visitors ended with the ball being fed to forward Lester Davies, who could only fire over from 18 yeards. Thomas Butler also fired well acrobatically, as the visitors pressed for a leveler.
Moments later Kevin Slack was fortunate to escape a second yellow after catching an Abingdon man late as he cleared the ball. The visitors were furious.
As Cleeve grabbed a foothold in the second half the chances came quick and frequent. First, Brad Martin headed wide from another terrific corner from Adam Mace. Then Jack Watts cut in from the right hand side before scuffing wide from the edge of the box.
The biggest chance to kill the game fell the way of Martin. The forward was given a free header inside the box and as Adam Mace floated the ball in, Martin could only head straight at Pritchard. Either side of the keeper and it was in.
With five minutes to go as Cleeve began to just shut up shop, Mace whipped in another glorious ball which was headed just wide by Ieuan Crowe.
Pritchard then kept his side in it as we ticked into injury time, by stopping Joe Bates’ sliding effort.
The final moment of action was the dismissal of Zak Eadie. The Abingdon centre half committed a foul as Cleeve were holding the ball in the corner, then reacted with dissent by kicking the ball at Crowe who was only a couple of yards away. The second yellow came out and Eadie was dismissed.
The result sees Bishops Cleeve stay in 5th place in the Hellenic Premier, but are now only 5 points off the leaders with four games in hand. Abingdon stay 17th in the table, just one and two points ahead of Tuffley Rovers and Longlevens – but both of the Gloucestershire sides have three games in hand.
Bishops Cleeve: Clayton, Drake, Mace, New, Ward, Staten, Iddles, Llewellyn (Ford 77′), Slack Crowe 66′), Martin (Bates 77′), Watts
Subs Not Used: Powell
Abingdon United: Pritchard, Wright, Sims, (Dark 53′) Eadie, Green (Ouaguena 70′), Baker, Smith, Moss, Davies (Wharton 77′), Harvey, Butler
Subs Not Used: Woodcock
Severn Sport Man Of The Match – Adam Mace (Bishops Cleeve)