Toolstation Western League Premier Division

Bridgwater Town 2, Plymouth Parkway 0

TWO late first half goals earned Bridgwater Town a hard-earned victory in a battle between two likely Western League Premier Division promotion contenders at Fairfax Park.

Captain for the day Jack Taylor opened the scoring on 43 minutes before Jake Llewellyn added a second from the spot in added time at the end of an otherwise even opening period.

Parkway kept knocking on the door in the second half but found Town goalkeeper Jake Viney in superb form as the Robins held firm and looked threatening themselves on the break during an entertaining game.

The first chance of the game went to the visitors as frontman Curtis Damerell rounded Viney but found the angle too tight to get a shot away and the danger was cleared.

Viney was again called into action shortly afterwards to tip away a long-range Shane Krac effort at full stretch, just moments after the ball had been in the net at the other end only for an offside flag to rule out Taylor’s expert lob from 20 yards.

Town were disjointed at times in the early stages but grew into the contest and Tom Ellis had a header cleared off the line before Sam Towler’s shot was blocked following a neat one-two with Steve Murray.

Murray and Taylor gave the visiting defence no room to breathe all afternoon and the pair combined to break the deadlock in unusual circumstances in the 43rd minute.

A long clearance was left by a Parkway centre-half who either did not see Taylor stood behind him or assumed the striker was offside.

The flag stayed down and Taylor made the most of it, exchanging passes with Murray before slotting past the goalkeeper for his sixth goal of the season in all competitions.

Parkway came close to an instant response, Viney needing a strong hand at his near post to keep out a stinging Damerell effort, but it was Town who got the crucial second goal.

Murray was again heavily involved, chasing down what looked a lost cause towards the corner flag before neatly skinning his opposite number and making his way into the box, where he was fouled.

The referee had no hesitation in pointing to the spot and Llewellyn sent the goalkeeper the wrong way with a firm penalty into the bottom corner to double the lead with the last kick of the half.

Krac side-footed over when well placed as Parkway looked to reduce the deficit early in the second half, which quickly settled into a rhythm of Town sitting back, absorbing pressure and looking to hit their visitors on the break.

It was a tactic which nearly succeeded in adding to the lead as Taylor saw a shot saved midway through the second half before Dave Thorne, who had continued his run after playing the striker in, couldn’t quite head home the rebound.

Viney then pulled off perhaps his best save of the day at a crucial time, diving to his left to parry away Mikey Williams’ shot with 15 minutes to play - Damerell could only find the side netting from the rebound.

As Parkway committed men forward, Town had further chances to make the points safe on the break as Murray stabbed a shot against the crossbar, Taylor fired into the side-netting and substitute Patrick O’Halloran turned neatly only to send a tame shot straight at the goalkeeper.

Ultimately, however, the two first half goals were enough for the Robins to extend their winning run to four matches in all competitions.

The back three were solid, with Jake Horsey the stand-out, the midfield and wing-backs worked tirelessly and, in Murray and Taylor, Bridgwater look to have goals in abundance up front.

Next Saturday they have a chance to test themselves against higher division opponents as Town host Bristol Manor Farm in the FA Cup first qualifying round.

Bridgwater Town: Jake Viney, Dave Thorne, Jake Llewellyn (Finley Wilkinson 83), Jake Horsey, Jamie Laird, Tom Ellis, Harry Horton, Dave O’Hare, Steve Murray (Patrick O’Halloran 85), Jack Taylor, Sam Towler (Mark Armstrong 70). Subs not used: Dave Pearse, Ross McErlain

Mercury man of the match: Jake Viney