Manager Matty Holmes found the right balance in sending out a team to win the game, rest key personnel, and give game time to squad players as goals by Luke Burbidge, Luke Holmes and Curtis Young at the Koolpak Stadium saw the Magpies reach the Dorset Senior Cup final for a second season running.
With Sam Bayston, Carl Pettefer and Ashley Pope cup-tied, and Gerard Benfield, Toby Holmes and James Stokoe rested, Manager Holmes gave starts to Chad Collins, Kieran Douglas, and Aidan Shepherd.
Wimborne came out in attacking mode. On 2 minutes Billy Maybury hit a brilliant through ball for Curtis Young on the right, but the winger was flagged off-side. In fact, that was the first of three off-side decisions for the hosts in the first 8 minutes as they made clear their intention to play balls behind the visitors’ defence. Franklyn Clarke flashed a ball across the face of the Bridport goal on 9 minutes, before Burbidge tried a speculative drive from wide on the left, and Shepherd ran onto Young’s flick before Bridport keeper Jason Hutchings made the first of many good saves from his angled shot.
But it wasn’t all one-way traffic, and 20 minutes in, the visitors enjoyed a good spell. The skillful and speedy Edward Butcher, on the left wing, was a constant source of danger, and the home defence were grateful to scramble away his cross from the by-line.
However, the opening goal was scored by Wimborne on 26 minutes from a well-worked corner. Burbidge played the ball to Maybury, instead of an expected shot, he returned it to the winger who came inside and beat Hutchings at his near post.
Bridport responded well to going behind. Three minutes later Butcher raced on to a defensive slip but blasted wild and wide when one-on-one with Collins. But he had his revenge on 32 minutes when, coming in from the left wing, he beat the keeper from just inside the box with a sumptuous shot to equalise.
As play flowed from end to end, Bridport’s centre-forward Mark Salter flashed a header just wide, and Ben Morris had Collins scampering across his goal. Lee Francis was playing balls into the inside-right channel for Shepherd. From one of these the youngster drew a sprawling save from Hutchings. And then, on 37 minutes, racing on to another well-weighted ball from Francis, Shepherd cut the ball back for Luke Holmes to head home in the goal area to put the hosts ahead again.
Then, just before the break, Wimborne nearly increased their lead. Burbidge’s corner was headed back across the goal to Clarke but his header was cleared off the line.
Wimborne started the second half brightly. The ever-willing Shepherd forced a corner after chasing a through ball, Burbidge crossed from the by-line, Young had a shot deflected wide, Douglas was just off target with a header, and Hutchings saved Burbidge’s low shot. Bridport had an effort cleared off the line before Wimborne scored their third on 54 minutes. Luke Holmes played Young through with a peach of a pass, and although Hutchings half-saved his effort, the ball rebounded off the winger and into the net.
With Burbidge in full flow, further goals seemed inevitable. But the Western League side dug deep, and it was they who scored the final goal on 71 minutes. After a Bees’ corner was half-cleared, Morris rifled a 20-yard shot past Collins via the inside of the post.
Chances came at both ends, but none changed the scoreline. Sam Davidson headed wide from a corner, Burbidge’s inviting cross found no takers, Davidson had two more decent attempts – a header cleared off the line, and a shot over the bar, and Shepherd was thwarted when one-on-one with the keeper. At the other end, Butcher’s lob over Collins went inches wide, and Salter had a shot cleared off the line.
After a game of 5 goals, 44 goal attempts, and 14 corners, it was Wimborne who claimed their place in the final against Poole. Bridport made light of the two-league difference between the teams and played their part in an entertaining game.
Wimborne: Collins, Francis, Lee (Penny 63), Davidson, Douglas (Hall 85), Clarke, Maybury, Young, Shepherd, Burbidge, L.Holmes. Unused subs: Benfield, Traynor, D.Holmes
Report by Graham Dunn
For the first time in Southern Premier history, table-toppers Weymouth travelled to Dorset rivals Wimborne for a league game with both teams keen to add to their points total. The opportunity to compare the league’s leading goalscorers, Toby Holmes and Brandon Goodship, attracted a large crowd. But the weather proved to be an integral part of the match with the wind howling down the pitch; and defences held firm.
The first incident came on the 16th minute when Luke Burbidge whipped in low free kick towards midfielder James Stokoe who just headed the ball wide to the left.
Luke Holmes fired a low menacing shot towards goal but the visitor’s keeper, Tom McHale, managed to parry out the ball over his head on the 32nd minute. On the 70th minute the wind took a toll on Weymouth’s Yemi Odubade as his shot was caught by the wind and headed towards the corner flag.
However, the home side used the wind to their advantage as they continuously fired towards McHale throughout the second half. Despite the torrential rain and the strong wind, both sides gave everything but neither team were able to fire the ball in the back of the net.
When you visit a top-four side with an 11-4-1 home record, the last thing you want to do is give them a 3-goal start in the first quarter of the game, but that’s precisely what the Magpies did. However, a thrilling second-half comeback saw them go within inches of equalising before a breakaway goal seven minutes from the end soothed the home team’s nerves.
With both Franklyn Clarke and Matt Oldring unavailable, manager Matty Holmes moved Stefan Penny to right-back with Jordan Lee in central defence with Sam Davidson. Carl Pettefer and Curtis Young started in midfield with the unlucky Lee Francis on the bench.
While the visitors’ defence was getting used to their new formation, they fell behind on 4 minutes. Two attempts to head the ball clear returned possession to The Met who quickly moved the ball to skipper Luke Robertson in space on the right in the penalty area. He lined up his shot, and angled the ball past Gerard Benfield to open the scoring.
Three minutes later, the home side doubled their lead. More slick passing found full-back Nesta Guiness-Walker in space on the left just outside the penalty area. His cross to the far post turned into a shot which deceived Benfield and flew into the far top corner.
Confidence flowed through the home side. Their pass-and-move football created space, and with Modric-lookalike Ethan Chislett pulling the strings in midfield, it was a difficult time for the Magpies.
And things got worse on 21 minutes. An in-swinging free-kick from wide on the right found home debutant defender Junior Eldstal in space in the centre of the goal area, and he had the easiest of tasks to head past the static Benfield.
But then the fight-back began. On 25 minutes Luke Burbidge threaded a brilliant ball through the home central defenders. Toby Holmes raced onto it but home keeper Bertie Schotterl made a fine sprawling save on the edge of his goal area. Just after the half-hour mark, James Stokoe found Burbidge who again sent Toby through only to be thwarted once more by the keeper. A minute later another through ball saw Toby beat the keeper, but his toe-poked effort hit the outside of the post. Luke Holmes, coming in from the right, forced Schotterl into a diving save, before another Stokoe, Burbidge, Toby combination ended with the striker putting the ball in the net, but from an offside position. On 43 minutes, from Wimborne’s fourth corner of the half, Stokoe and Schotterl had an aerial battle, which the keeper won at the third attempt. And then, in the final minute of the half, Penny’s cross-cum-shot from wide on the right was heading for the top corner before the tall keeper’s outstretched arm tipped the ball over the bar.
Wimborne started the second period on the front foot. After a good build-up, Burbidge tested Schotterl. Then on 48 minutes, they pulled a goal back. Burbidge trickery on the right ended with a chip into the goal area where Luke Holmes headed home.
With Wimborne playing the ball on the ground at a high tempo, all the play was towards The Met’s goal. Young’s through ball on the left for Toby was desperately cleared, and Pettefer’s pass down the right forced the keeper to rush out. Luke Holmes won the ball back wide on the right but Burbidge was crowded out before he could get a shot away. On 71 minutes, the visitors broke quickly after clearing a corner. Burbidge, inevitably, found Toby down the inside-right channel. This time he evaded the keeper to score – game on!
The Police were well and truly rattled. Two minutes later the two Holmes combined to create a shooting opportunity for Billy Maybury whose shot was blocked. On 79 minutes Toby was hauled down just outside the penalty area as he chased a through ball. Twenty-two yards from goal – it was Maybury territory. His free-kick went over the wall, and was dipping under the bar, when Schotterl made another fine diving save to tip the ball over. Burbidge had the ball in the net two minutes later, but it was ruled out for a push on the keeper.
As Wimborne’s tired legs chased an equaliser, gaps were left at the back. And on 83 minutes, The Met exploited that. Breaking quickly, they outnumbered the Magpies defence, moved the ball to Robertson on the right and he finished past Benfield to seal the points with their only goal attempt on target of the half. (Their other attempt was high, wide, and not very handsome.)
A cracking game of football which once more showed what we already know, Wimborne can live with any team in this division. We can score goals, all we’ve got to do is stop conceding them – simples!
Wimborne: Benfield, Penny, Maybury, Davidson, Lee, Pettefer, Stokoe, Young, T.Holmes, Burbidge, L.Holmes.
Unused subs: Francis, Shepherd, Owen, Walsh, Traynor
Playing 50 minutes with 10 men, Salisbury ended Wimborne’s 12-match home unbeaten run to maintain their chase for promotion.