A solitary Brad Vanstone strike was enough to earn Longlevens their second away win in a row in the Hellenic Premier and it also saw Longlevens claim a second win over their hosts in a week. However, there was controversy and questionable decisions that made El Glosico an enthralling encounter.
The start saw the competitive edge from both sides we expected but the referee David Nicholson set the tone early on with three yellow cards in the first 10 minutes, all of which were raised to Tuffley players. The first saw Danny Wallington carded for being a fraction late in a 50/50 with Longlevens full back, Ellis Sausman. The second was brandished to Tuffley player/manager Mark Pritchett as he appeared to kick out at Brad Martin after the frontman ran into him. On another day it could have easily been a red card! The trio of yellows was complete when Joel White was booked for tripping Brad Vanstone after the Longlevens man had skipped past him.
The first major goal mouth action soon followed when Dave Evans had to come rushing out to deny Brad Vanstone, who had been set through one on one. Ellis Sausman was then carded for pulling back a Tuffley man on the far side soon after.
Tuffley reacted to their sluggish start by turning the screw and dictating the next 10 minutes, starting with Brett James rattling Ash Wintle’s left hand upright. Warren Mann then lobbed Wintle from outside the box but it didn’t have the legs to get there and Wintle recovered. The third chance in 7 minutes for Tuffley fell to Pritchett who hooked a volley over from about 8 yards.
Tuffley were in the ascendancy but then out of nowhere a long ball found its way to Brad Vanstone, who once again broke the offside trap but this time slotted the ball beyond Evans and the deadlock was broken.
Despite the goal Rovers continued to dominate possession and chances for Kieran Alder & Brett James were both fired just wide of Wintle’s right hand post. Then James clipped the outside of Wintle’s left hand post for the second time in the half.
Five minutes before half time and with Longlevens still leading Tuffley suffered a major setback. After dropping a drilled in cross it appeared keeper Dave Evans was in trouble and after a short delay he departed the field with a suspected dislocated finger. Mark Pritchett went in goal and Jamie Reid came in to partner the now armband wearing Macaulay Herbert at the back.
The second half started a little bit slower than the first with a few feeler efforts being fired wide by first Liam Wright for Tuffley then Jay Kennedy for Longlevens. Brett James then found himself one on one with Wintle after Craig Martin tried to take him out, only to be denied by the Longlevens shot stopper. From there came the next major talking point in the game.
Longlevens played the ball forward and as Shaun O’Connor ran in on the advancing Mark Pritchett, the frontman went down and it appeared Pritchett had left his leg in on O’Connor. The referee pointed to the spot and brandished a straight red card. Tuffley now were onto their third goalkeeper of the game as well as 10 men.
After a brief huddle Rovers’ wide man Liam Wright donned the number 1 jersey and gloves. Wright’s first task was to save O’Connor’s spotkick as the penalty was placed down the middle. Wright was then called into further action to deny Myron Turner and Brad Martin. Wright was keeping Tuffley in it, big time!
Shayne Bradley and Chris Manners were brought on for the hosts as they searched for the equaliser and as Rovers piled forward it left them susceptible to the counter. Brad Vanstone and Shaun O’Connor tried to take advantage of this but once again Liam Wright kept them at bay.
In the end time ran out for Tuffley and Longlevens held on to earn another win on the road. Not one for the fans of flair and quality attacking football. But a grudge derby match similar to a heavyweight boxing fight unfolded. Competitive, physical and decided on the day by Brad Vanstone.
Tuffley Rovers: Evans (Reid 40), Hill, Herbert, Pritchett, O’Leary (Manners 73), Wallington, James, White, Mann, Alder (Bradley 59), Wright
Subs Not Used: Goodwin, Haswell
Longlevens: Wintle, Kavanagh, Sausman, Merrick, Turner, Kennedy, C Martin, Vanstone (Bradley 78), O’Connor (Byard 90), B Martin, Dunn
Subs Not Used: Soloman, Welch
Severn Sport Man of The Match: Craig Martin
Match Rating: 3/5