Kevin Slack’s 93rd minute equaliser for Bishops Cleeve prevented Tuffley Rovers winning their second local derby in a week and kept the Mitres clinging on to their title challenge in the Hellenic Premier.
Bishops Cleeve find themselves 10 points off the leaders, but have three games in hand over leaders Brimscombe & Thrupp after this afternoon’s 1-1 draw at Glevum Park.
Cleeve started the game stronger, with Harrison Iddles firing off target twice in the opening five minutes as well as a Jordan Staten header that also failed to test Luke Merchant in the Tuffley goal.
Rovers, who went into the game on the back of a 4-1 win over Lydney on Tuesday night, had a glorious chance just past the quarter of an hour mark when Cheltenham Town loanee Will Dawes blazed wide from the edge of the box.
Dawes and fellow Robins youngster Tyreece Briscoe were included in the Rovers line up in the two changes from Tuesday night’s game and they weren’t afraid to get stuck in as the challenges began to fly in.
Paul Carter had the first half’s major flashpoint when he slid in on Iddles. The visiting bench were up in arms over the challenge but referee Neal Templey took his time to assess the situation before putting Carter in the book.
Then just after the half hour mark Carter was late into a challenge with Iddles again but this time Mr Templey gave the free kick and ignored the calls for a second yellow card. In reality, Carter was a very lucky boy.
Cleeve then lost Jack Watts to injury after he was caught late following a shot on goal. He was replaced by Kevin Slack.
Elliot Kennedy nearly flicked the visitors in front before the break, but his effort curled just wide of Merchant’s right hand post. Kieran Alder then curled a free kick over as the sides went in level.
Tuffley manager Mark Pritchett replaced Carter with the in-form Luke Troke to ensure his side were likely to finish the game with all XI on the pitch.
As the second half wore on the game became very hard viewing due to the wind that was swirling around Glevum Park. Neither side were able to really test the opposing goalkeeper and to be fair, both defences kept their opponents at bay very well.
Troke slipped in Kieran Alder on the right hand side of the box with just over 20 minutes left, but his effort was denied by Lewis Clayton in the Cleeve goal. Clayton, who heads to Sweden in the coming weeks, showed his quality with a big save to deny the Tuffley top goal scorer.
Clayton though will have nightmares about the way in which he lost his clean sheet. After Luke Payne’s floated ball in was punched up into the air by Clayton, the ball got caught in the wind and blew up and behind the keeper and into his net. A bizarre way for the opening goal to come but the game needed it.
The visitors nearly levelled instantly, but after Slack’s knock down Kennedy could only drive one into the side netting.
Both sides went close in the final five minutes. FIrst, Alder’s 30 yard free kick crashed against the Mitres crossbar. Then after the away side won a corner, Slack thundered his header towards goal – but it was met by a strong glove of Luke Merchant.
Then just as it looked like Tuffley would be taking all three points, a Ieuan Crowe cross fell to slack at the back post and he slide the ball between Merchant’s legs to rescue a point.
The result leaves Bishops Cleeve in 3rd, 4 points behind Wantage in second and 10 behind Brimscombe. For Tuffley, they were the only side in and around them to take points of any kind – so they push even closer to Hellenic Premier safety.
Both sides are at home next weekend, with Tuffley playing their third local derby in a row when Brimscombe & Thrupp come to visit. Bishops Cleeve will be hoping Tuffley Rovers can do them a favour whilst the Mitres welcome Flackwell Heath to Kayte Lane.
Tuffley Rovers: Merchant, Payne, Loveridge, White, Herbert, Carter (Troke 46′), Alder, Briscoe, Bloomfield (Rhodes 73′), Dawes, Mann (Bird 82′)
Subs Not Used: Pritchett, Davies
Bishops Cleeve: Clayton, Wright, Mace, Ward, Staten, Davies (Llewellyn 86′), Iddles (71′), Ford, Kennedy, Martin, Watts (Slack 35′)
Subs Not Used: New, Edge
Severn Sport Man Of The Match – Macaulay Herbert (Tuffley Rovers)
Check out all of the results from in and around the county this weekend right here.