Cup final opponents battle out an entertaining draw in the league

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By The Bristol Post | Thursday, February 28, 2013, 05:00

STOCKWOOD Wanderers and Warmley Saints warmed up for their GFA Cup final showdown in April with a share of the spoils after a competitive tussle in Keynsham.

There was little to choose between the teams throughout and few braving the bitter cold at Manor Road playing fields could argue that a draw wasn't a fair result, although second-placed Saints, who had won the corresponding October encounter 2-0 on home soil, were left frustrated they could not hold on to their 2-1 half-time advantage.

Wanderers, who dropped a place to sixth spot, gave as good as they got, and after weathering an early flurry of Saints attacks amid an opening period of few opportunities at either end, they almost snatched the lead against the run of play in the 20th minute. Full-back Tom Hearn's strike from near the left touchline rattled the near post, to the surprise of Warmley goalkeeper Matt Summers who had clearly thought the effort was drifting wide.

A minute later, the visitors took the lead. Industrious midfielder Matt Gunstone swept a corner into the box and, after the ball pinged around off a series of feet and bodies, it fell kindly for Olly Webb to score with a firm finish.

Stockwood centre-back and skipper Eddie Trainer had a free-kick, which sailed straight into the grateful clutches of Summers. At the other end, Gunstone fired a shot narrowly wide from just outside the area, after his initial free-kick had been driven into Wanderers' defensive wall and rebounded into his path.

Trainer was soon in the thick of it again and this time the outcome was a perfect one. He launched a free-kick from the left deep into the heart of the Warmley penalty area, where lively left-winger Ricky Brumpton was loitering unmarked to score with his first headed goal and tie the match up at 1-1.

Summers then leaped to Warmley's rescue with a decent stop to deny Ashley Rowe, who had fastened on to an astute ball from midfield by Jake Eade.

Stockwood were in the ascendancy, but they were dealt a second setback three minutes from the interval. Gunstone pumped a free-kick long into the home team's penalty area and there was Chris Punter, in his 16th season with the club, to nod Saints back in front with an effort not dissimilar to Stockwood's equalising strike.

Sadly for the Saints skipper, that was virtually his last kick of the contest, because four minutes into the second half he was replaced by Sam Andrews after tweaking his groin in overstretching for the ball.

Stockwood were clearly geed up and in the mood to make a fist of it. Eade fired a crisp left-footed shot straight at Summers, while Travis Harrison, to howls of protests from the opposition camp claiming he was offside, was allowed to continue, but could only slot his finish just past the near post as Summers came off his line to try to stop the striker. Moments later, a three-man move through midfield involving Rowe, Harrison and Ben Freke ended with the latter scooping his effort high over the top.

Freke was substituted on 65 minutes to give Danny Grant an opportunity, but Harrison continued to threaten the Warmley goal. He saw one attempt ricochet off a body before his follow-up shot was pushed behind by Summers for a corner.

Eventually, with 20 minutes to go, Stockwood's pressure paid off, albeit in slightly fortuitous circumstances. There appeared little on as Brumpton sped down the left channel and he was a surprised and delighted man to see his attempted cross loop over the head of Summers and nestle inside the far post to make it 2-2.

Brumpton was gunning for a hat-trick now and the midfielder burst forward again before unleashing a decent left-footed drive, which Summers did well to get behind.

Although the fixture was typically feisty, it was seldom ill-tempered and the worst challenge of all led late on to the sending off of Stockwood captain Trainer for a rash sliding tackle that enthusiastic and confident referee Martin Peters, who always tried to keep the contest flowing, felt merited a straight red card.

So the scene is set for the GFA Junior Cup final between the teams at Oaklands Park, Almondsbury, on Tuesday, April 16, when surely another close and compelling match is in store.

Stockwood Wanderers: Terry Barry; Iain Carlin, Andrew Gerson, Eddie Trainer, Tom Hearn; Richard Lane, Ben Freke (Danny Grant, 65), Jake Eade, Ricky Brumpton; Ashley Rowe, Travis Harrison. Not used: Ryan Davies, Daryl Taynton.

Warmley Saints: Matt Summers, Mike York, Phil Crew, Nick Peters, Ian Clark; Olly Webb, Matt Gunstone, Phil Anstee (Ed Searle, 71), Chris Punter (Sam Andrews, 49); Paul Cutter, Adam O'Brien (Ansteee, 84).

Referee: Martin Peters

      

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