Green round off a great week with victory over Shaftesbury
DAN Tanner was a driving force for Longwell Green Reserves as they topped-off a great week with victory over Shaftesbury Crusade on Saturday.
Three days earlier, Longwell Green had ended leaders Bitton Reserves' unbeaten record with a 3-1 away victory.
So, they entered their encounter with second-placed Shaftesbury high on confidence, and with Tanner instrumental in much of their best work with an industrious and skilful display in central midfield, Longwell deserved the three points.
They had their hosts rocking barely two minutes into the contest when right-back Matt Alway did well to get to the byline and drill the ball into the middle, where Mark Ashley was on hand to fire it hard into the net at the second attempt after a defender had got in the way of his initial strike.
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Skipper Simon Warren was also a roving threat down Longwell's right side and when he lifted a hanging delivery into the Shaftesbury box, Ashley did well to get the bouncing ball under control and flick it over the head of stranded keeper Mark Aldridge, but against the base of a post.
Shaftesbury were being restricted to long-range efforts and Dan Seery was disappointed to see his low drive, which bounced awkwardly in front of David Leggett, clawed away to safety by the Longwell Green keeper.
The best chances were falling the visitors' way and Dave Parnell skied a half-volley over the crossbar.
Shaftesbury went close to levelling shortly before the break when Seery's 25-yard free-kick took a ricochet off the defensive wall and Leggett was relieved to push the ball to safety.
The second half took some time to warm up, although Warren and Symon O'Reilly, for Longwell and Shaftesbury respectively, both saw their edge-of-the-box free-kicks threaten the target.
Warren's excellent curling effort just drifted past the angle of bar and post, while O'Reilly watched in frustration as Leggett leaped low to his left to turn his well-struck shot behind.
On the hour mark, Longwell increased their lead. Warren and Tanner combined well down the right to tee-up substitute Elliott Pugsley, who managed to scramble the ball over the line.
There appeared no way back for Shaftesbury, the lively Kevin Mills producing one notable effort with a sharp turn and shot from inside the box which Leggett was again equal to with a good catch at his near post.
At the other end, Ashley and Pugsley both hit the post for Longwell in quick succession, before Shaftesbury were suddenly given a lifeline.
With 12 minutes left, Mills tried to skip around Leggett as the Longwell keeper raced from his line and he caught the home forward as he dived at his feet. O'Reilly struck the resultant penalty high to Leggett's left.
Shaftesbury were braced for a late rally, but their fightback hopes were dealt a knockout blow as Longwell hit back just three minutes later. Tanner galloped through midfield, leaving two opponents in his wake, before playing a perfect through pass for Parnell to fasten on to.
The striker was felled inside the area by the arms of Shaftesbury custodian Mark Aldridge in an almost carbon copy incident of the previous penalty award, and Parnell calmly sent Aldridge the wrong way from 12 yards to kill off home hopes.
Shaftesbury Crusade: Mark Aldridge, Ben Pamplin, Garry Denner, Symon O'Reilly, Dave Chinnick, Russ Painter (Troy Randall 57), Tom Kilbane, Dan Flay, Ross Davidson, Kevin Mills, Dan Seery (Salvatore Mastromarino, 85).
Longwell Green Res: David Leggett, Matt Alway, Sam McAlindon, Jake Hallett, Dan Stephens, Craig Madine (Elliott Pugsley 57), Simon Warren, Dan Tanner, Mark Ashley (Andy Britton 89), Dave Parnell, Matt Jackson.