ALMONDSBURY TOWN responded magnificently to a sad week in the history of the football club as they drew at promotion-chasing Mangotsfield United in an entertaining local derby.
A stunning free kick by Adam Mahdi on 55 minutes cancelled out Rob Moore’s ninth minute opener and Almondsbury could feel slightly unfortunate not to take all three points after an impressive second half display.
The point, along with other results in the Division One South & West, means they sit in the top five, but even if they stay there they will not be able to compete in the play-offs after their decision to withdraw from the Southern League at the end of the season due to problems in finding a new ground.
Although points may not be of utmost importance for Almondsbury anymore, they did the badge proud and showed their determination to finish the season strongly.
They were not helped by disruptions with goalkeeper Stuart Jones suffering a groin strain in the warm-up, with Lee Matthews stepping up to the breach, and they were to lose Ross Stearn due to a dead leg in the first half before his replacement Josh Klein-Davies dislocated his shoulder late on.
Mangotsfield went ahead when a deep corner from the left by Matt Groves was flicked in the net by Moore via the inside of the post.
If that was another test of Almondsbury’s character after a difficult week then they passed with flying colours as they came more in to the game.
Jack Pitcher delightfully exchanged passes with Dean Griffiths before feeding the ball through to Stearn but Mangotsfield goalkeeper Danny Greaves came off his line well to save with his legs. The danger wasn’t over though as Moore’s clearance only went as far as Pitcher, whose header from ten yards landed on the roof of the net.
Mangotsfield continued to pose a threat themselves, though, and when Scott Brice misjudged the bounce of the ball, Ashley Kington set Sam O’Sullivan through on goal before Ben Willshire came across to block his shot.
In first half stoppage time Griffiths played the ball out to Willshire on the left before running into the box to get on the end of his cross. The striker chested down before hitting a volley that was palmed away by Greaves.
Almondsbury started the second half well with Tom Warren firing a left-footed shot just wide from 25 yards.
After Pitcher was pulled back by Moore on the edge of the box, Mahdi curled the free kick around the wall and into the corner of the net for the equaliser.
Mahdi continued to have a big influence on the game and from a fine move he started with a wonderful cross-field pass to Todd Winter, he got the ball back from Pitcher before forcing a good save by Greaves, who dived to his right and held the 25-yard effort well.
Greaves came off his line to make a good block to deny Pitcher late on after Griffiths flicked on Warren’s long free kick.
However, Mangotsfield almost snatched victory in the seventh minute of stoppage time as Mitchell Page hit a fierce shot on the turn from 15 yards and Matthews did brilliantly to tip the ball over the bar before the final whistle went.
Mangotsfield United: Greaves, Arndale, Baker, Purnell, Colborne, Moore, Groves (Tooze, 86), Bater, Page, Kington (O’Connot, 66), O’Sullivan. Subs not used: Hendy, Felix.
Almondsbury Town: Matthews, Warren, WIllshire, Brice, Mapstone, Dunn, Stearn (Klein-Davies, 30 (Whittington, 90)), Thorne (Winter, 82), Griffiths, Pitcher, Mahdi. Sub not used: Peckham.
Ref: D Woolford Att: 203.
Gazette star man: Adam Mahdi.