A WEAKENED Minehead team with nine squad members unavailable were strong enough to beat a very young Bridgwater Town reserve side 2-0 in the Somerset county league on Saturday.
The visitors, who included a large number of players from Bridgwater Academy with expectations of making their Southern League side, were kept largely at arms length from Minehead’s goal.
But home keeper Kyran Wilkins had to be at his exceptional best to keep out shots from outside the box midway through the second half when the fit youngsters enjoyed their best spell of the game.
The match started with the visitors forcing two early corners, both of which caused problems to the home defence, but gradually as the storm abated, Minehead clawed themselves back into the match with debutants Simon Dennehy and Pat Reed starting to influence the midfield.
Ten minutes before the interval Minehead’s pressure paid off and when Reed’s pressure won him the ball from the last defender Josh White, and with White then pulling him down as he shaped to shoot the referee, having consulted with his assistant, pointed to the spot.
Minehead’s leading scorer in pre-season friendlies Aaron Deeks, confidently slotted the blues ahead, making his tally eight in the last six games.
The second half continued to be tight, but with Minehead looking the most likely to score, and after the former football league referee had played two advantages after infringements on Minehead players’ the ball fell kindly to Reed, who passed the ball into the corner of the net from the edge of the box, giving Josh Hayward, the visitors’ keeper, little chance.
At 2-0 the visitors would have needed little reminding of last season’s two heavy defeats at the hands of their hosts, who scored 13 times conceding just one, but to the youngsters credit they remained firmly in the game and refused to buckle.
Rhys Hayward went close, watching his low shot hit the post, then three times in as many minutes Wilkins made outstanding full length saves from three goalbound shots from outside of the penalty box.
Again Minehead weathered the storm, and there were no further incidents of great note during the final quarter of an hour. Minehead: Kyran Wilkins, Harry Scatchard, Mikey Graddon, Andy Gubb, Tom Reed, Danny Wilson-Gracey, Simon Dennehy, Ross Addicott, Luke Webber, Aaron Deeks, Pat Reed.
Subs: Declan Green (8,80) Michael Hodgson (10,87), Sam Tarr, Tim Ollerenshaw.