BCAFL Division One

Castle Green 1-2 Thornbury Baptist Church FC

This was a fantastic and very hard-fought away win for a Thornbury side missing a catalogue of first team players for various reasons.

Castle Green had six points from their two opening fixtures and are long-time close rivals of Thornbury after the two sides were promoted together from Division 2 in the 2010/11 season.

Thornbury started well and when striker Will Ponting latched onto a Davis Newcombe clearance he was completely upended by the Castle Green keeper who was very fortunate to get away with a yellow card as a covering defender was deemed just close enough to prevent a clear goal-scoring opportunity.

Christian Irwin’s free-kick was cleared only as far as full-back Phil Loadwick who’s thirty-yard drive was well saved by the Castle Green keeper. As the game kicked off Loadwick had become only the fourth player to reach 250 appearances for the club and had he found the top corner it would have been some way to mark that impressive feat.

Thornbury didn’t have to wait much longer for the lead. On 20 minutes Jimmy Cooke hunted down another through-ball and this time the keeper’s fair tackle fell perfectly for Will Ponting to stroke the ball past the defender and into the empty net for a deserved lead.

Cooke should have added another after a brilliant low cross from Nile Haskins but he blazed over from just inside the box. When Will Ponting was bundled over inside the box on 34 minutes however, Cooke was clinical with the penalty and netted his third of the season. Thornbury were really on top at this stage and Stu Kelly had an effort well saved by the keeper before Ponting nearly had his second with a brilliant header from a corner.

The hosts were awarded a penalty of their own though when Toby Williams clipped the impressive Castle Green winger David Osibanjo and Luke Tucker rolled home the spot kick to see them back in the game just before half time.

The second half was largely controlled by Thornbury with Toby Williams and Dexter Foorde in imperious form at the back, ably supported by Kyle Sotiris and James Ponting on the flanks. Chances went begging to put the game to bed, Cooke squandering the best of the lot late in the game.

Dave Tushingham arrived from the bench for a rare appearance, returning to action after a three year absence having begun a career with the Baptists nearly two decades ago.

Thornbury’s seven points from three away fixtures to start the season represents a really impressive start but they welcome 2019/20 BCAFL Cup Winners Clevedon to Alveston next week, Clevedon having been crowned Champions with victory over Woodlands when football was allowed to resume after lockdown.