Merlins Bridge 3
Hakin United 6
THIS league clash at the Racecourse was a brilliant advert for Pembrokeshire League football.
The reigning champions twice came from behind to seal a crucial win against arch rivals the Wizards, when the odds were definitely stacked against them.
Gary Dawes’ Hakin outfit played 70 minutes with ten men after goalkeeper James Manson was red carded for fouling Jordan Raymond inside the box, and they also lost influential centre back Gareth Fawcett with a leg injury. Manson was replaced by Adrian Devonald, who is a former keeper. And to top it all Ashley Bevan bagged a stunning late hat-trick in just six minutes to put the shine on the final result when minutes earlier the champions were heading towards their first league defeat of the campaign.
James Stanmore struck an early goal for the visitors, but Joe John equalised following confusion inside the Vikings’ box. Manson saw red as Peter Thomas converted with the resulting spot-kick that gave the Wizards a 2-1 lead at half time.
Stanmore scored a cracking equaliser, coming off the right wing and curling his shot past the outstretched Carl Woodhouse. But the Wizards regained the lead when Stephen McNabney scored from distance.
The Vikings were rocking but they equalised under controversy. Striker Paul Jones sprung the offside trap and duly planted his shot past Woodhouse. Bridge players protested but referee Tom Bevan was having none of it.
As supporters were settling for a draw up popped Bevan to score three similar goals in dramatic fashion, the midfielder came off the right side and struck vicious left footed strikes into the roof of the net, and this sweet win has certainly put the Vikings on course towards retaining the title.
Merlins Bridge: Carl Woodhouse, Nathan Thomas, Lee Hudgell, Paul Thomas, Peter Thomas, Daniel Bryce, Jordan Raymond, Dai Davies, Stephen McNabney, Joe John, Simon Thomas. Subs: Robbie Waters, Kevin Phillips.
Hakin United: James Manson, Ewan Findlay, Nathan Banner, Gareth Fawcett, Steve Allen, Jonathan Bennett, Adrian Devonald, Matthew Broome, Ashley Bevan, Paul Jones, James Stanmore. Subs: Leigh Broome, Paul Jenkins, Ashley Cleevely.
Referee: Tom Bevan.