Player-boss Sykes tees up a vital winner for Cleeve
BISHOP'S CLEEVE 1 CLEVEDON TOWN 0
BISHOP'S Cleeve moved to within a point of Southern League safety with a priceless 1-0 victory over Clevedon Town at Kayte Lane.
On-loan Gloucester City midfielder Matt Liddiard struck the crucial goal for the Villagers four minutes after the break to halt a run of seven successive defeats in Evo-Stik League Southern Division One South and West.
Clevedon were forced to battle for over an hour with ten men after goalkeeper Lee Matthews saw red for a deliberate handball outside the area.
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Striker Rory Prendegast was forced to don the gloves in Matthews' absence and despite only being beaten once, Cleeve were deserved and comfortable winners.
After a closely contested opening to the game, Clevedon – who were skippered by former Cheltenham Town playmaker Alex Russell – lost goalkeeper Matthews on 28 minutes.
Another Gloucester City loanee, Joe Parker, latched on to a through ball and headed the ball goalwards only for Edwards to raise his arm to connect with the ball outside the area.
Cleeve were denied the services of Cheltenham Town trio Michael Gonzalo, Bobbie Dale and Zack Kotwica owing to paperwork not being completed in time, and without the exuberance of youth, the Villagers struggled to make a breakthrough.
But after battling away gamely, the hosts got the breakthrough they craved four minutes after the interval.
Player-boss Alex Sykes swung over a teasing free-kick from the left flank and Liddiard met it with the perfect connection to loop it over Prendergast and into the net.
A crucial lead established, Cleeve defended resolutely and were measured in attack, sensing that their breakthrough victory was coming.
They were limited to half chances for the remainder of the game with Jake Lee snap-shot failing to properly test Prendergast and the excellent Parker striking the post.
For their part, Clevedon had two half-chances of their own on the break – but Russell's teasing corner struck a post and Russell Church bounced an effort off the top of the bar as Cleeve held on.
The win, coupled with defeat for closest relegation rivals Winchester City, means that the Villagers are now just one point from overhauling the side from Hampshire at the foot of the table.
However, Cleeve have six games in hand on Winchester and could move past their rivals with a win against Gloucestershire rivals Shortwood United at Meadowbank next weekend.
Cleeve, who host Mangotsfield United in the Gloucestershire Senior Challenge Cup on Wednesday night (7.30pm), welcome Winchester to Kayte Lane on Saturday, March 9.