James strikes from spot to boost Tuffley's title bid
TUFFLEY Rovers are back on top of the Gloucestershire County League after securing two crucial results in the past seven days.
A thumping 5-0 success against Thornbury Town combined with Saturday's 1-1 draw with title rivals King's Stanley made it a near-perfect week for Doug Foxwell's men.
The large majority of a healthy crowd of 115 at Marling Close were given reason to cheer early in the game as the hosts took a second-minute lead.
A corner was swept over into the box from the left and Ben Newman avoided the Tuffley marking to stab his side into the lead.
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Rovers weathered the early storm, gradually worked their way back into the game, and could have levelled in the 14th minute but Warren Mann fired just wide of the post.
But after Paul Webster was penalised for pushing in the box on 23 minutes, Tuffley were given the chance to equalise from the penalty spot and Richard James duly obliged with the equaliser.
Mark Blackmore fired over as Tuffley ended the half in control, before the hosts roared back in the second period as they fought for a crucial victory.
Nick Humphrey's broke into the box and fired across the box but nobody was there to turn it home and Tuffley keeper Chris Perks had to be alert to sniff out further Stanley attacks.
Warren Mann had a penalty shout waved away and Kieran Tracey was inches from hitting the target on the 70th minute while Mann and Mark Blackmore had further half-chances as the game ended in a draw.
The hard-earned point means that Tuffley are now two points ahead of Stanley in the league table, although the Glevum Park club have a game in hand on their closest title challengers.
At the other end of the table Berkeley Town after they claimed their first win since the end of October with a 1-0 success at Bishop's Cleeve Reserves.
The only goal of the game for the Hunters came with five minutes to go as Sam Strickland latched on to Luke Palmer's through-ball to finish.
The win moves basement club Berkeley to within four points of DRG Frenchay, who were beaten 5-1 by Southmead CS Athletic.
Taverners nudged their advantage over Frenchay to four points after they claimed a point in a 1-1 draw with Frampton United.
After a goalless first half, Josh Blunt opened the scoring for Taverners in the first minute of the second period direct from a corner.
But the second goal didn't arrive despite Tavs dominating and Kris Bulley levelled the scores with a superb curling effort from a seemingly impossible angle.
Form side Longlevens picked up their fifth straight win with a 2-0 success against Chipping Sodbury Town and Saw Mills Lane.
Brad Martin gave the hosts the lead on seven minutes, turning home a Josh Westcarr long throw, before Justin Cattle wasted a good chance to level the scores for Sodbury.
Ryan Dunn missed a cracking chance to double the lead in the second half, before Dave Merrick fired home the decisive second with ten minutes remaining.