A straight red card for Mervin Bhujun early on didn’t stop Broadbridge Heath from recording a first victory of the new season over Westfield on Saturday.
Striker Bhujun nearly scored in the opening minutes, while Westfield’s Gordon Cuddington also had a great early chance before Bhujun was dismissed for a mistimed tackle which caused an angry reaction from the visiting players.
Despite being a man down Heath went on the ascendancy and Ollie Moore put them ahead on 25 minutes when he stooped to head in a Piers McDermott corner, and just before the break Wood almost added a second when clean through.
Wood continued to cause problems into the second half and from his cross McDermott guided the ball over with the goal gaping. The visitors were more of a threat thereafter, though goalkeeper James Fisher and the back four stood firm.
BBH: Fisher, Etherington, Chester, Waddingham, Howard, McDermott, Moore, Alfieri (Godfrey 80), Andrade (White 60), Bhujun, Woods.
Heath were forced to play the majority of this match with only ten players when Mervin Bhujun was shown a straight red card for a foul on the Westfield right fullback.
Playing their first home league match of the season Heath started well and Bhujun almost scored in the opening minutes with a shot from distance that went narrowly over the crossbar onto the roof of the net, at the other end Westfield’s Gordon Cuddington had a great chance to give his team the lead but headed straight at Andy Howard who cleared from the goal line, Heath’s Tiago Andrade then took a speculative shot from distance which went wide of the post but with 10 minutes played Bhujun mistimed a tackle on Sam Willett, the Westfield players immediately reacted by swarming round Bhujun and Michael Wood, the latter being knocked to the ground and when the referee regained control he went to his back pocket and produced a red card for Bhujun and a yellow for the Westfield centre-back.
Despite being a man down it was Heath who went on the ascendency and Ollie Moore put the Bears ahead on 25 minutes when he stooped low to head a Piers McDermott corner in at the far post and just before the break Wood almost added a second when through on goal but the Westfield keeper Dan Foster reacted quickly to come off his line and clear the danger.
Into the second period and Wood was again causing problems for the visitors with his pace down the right flank and Heath should have been two up within 5 minutes of the restart when Wood crossed from the right and Piers McDermott came rushing into the six yard box but somehow guided the ball over the cross bar with the goal at his mercy. A few minutes later and the same move but this time Tiago Andrade received the ball but struck it straight into Foster’s mid-drift.
The visitors finally got their act together in the latter stages, Liam Miles headed just over the crossbar, Dom Clarke shot just wide but Heaths back four stood firm and with goalkeeper James Fisher orchestrating his defenders from the back the visitor’s task was never going to be easy. In the dying minutes of the game Foster joined in an attack for a corner, the ball was cleared to Michael Wood on the halfway line he knocked it forward beyond the last Westfield defender and was crudely brought down just a few yards into the opponents half, with nobody between Wood and the empty goal this would clearly have been a certain goal but surprisingly the Referee only saw this as a yellow card much to the bemusement of the supporters especially Bhujun who was made to watch most of the game from the stand.
Heath manager Steve Painter was very pleased with the result but felt disappointed at losing his striker to a red card and said afterwards ‘We all saw what happened and none of us thought Merv’s tackle was a sending off, it was a foul but at worse a caution there was hardly any contact and nobody was injured, I do think the referee was influenced by the reaction of the Westfield players and that’s why he sent him off”.
On Tuesday Heath entertain Midhurst & Easebourne and on Saturday Little Common will travel to the Leisure Centre.