DESPITE another fighting second half by Minehead, Burnham grabbed all three points late on in an entertaining clash in Division One West of the Somerset County League on Saturday.
The sides were meeting for the first time this season, and the visitors, starting the match three points behind the Blues, began brighter on a bitterly cold day.
Their busy no 8 Stevens registered the first shot from the left which went across Nathan Sheehan’s goal, and that was followed by a free-kick which eluded everyone again as it went across the face of the goal.
Minehead tried to make telling replies to Burnham’s occasional thrusts, with a Guy Burns free-kick bouncing off Damion Redman and Luke Bloys to safety, Mike Graddon on the left feeding Burns who shot wide from the right, Bloys wriggling past defenders to thread a pass through to Redman who was tackled, and the returning Harry Scatchard probing and bustling as he tried to link up with his colleagues.
But they were not quite joining up the dots and continued to give away free-kicks on the edge of the penalty area, and first blood was drawn by Burnham on 20 minutes when centre forward Scott found space on the left and his lobbed effort went in off the right hand post.
The Blues pressed for an equaliser and more linking play from Chris Newbold, Luke Howells, Burns and Redman brought a corner which failed to trouble the Reds, then another Burns shot from distance and a sustained goalmouth scramble ended with an unusually inaccurate finish from Redman in front of an open goal.
After Redman and Howells went close and Graddon headed over, Burnham replied with a header from Scott which was covered by Sheehan, who was then rounded by Selway but his shot was fired clear by Bloys.
However, Selway then netted Burnham’s second when Minehead failed to clear a corner in the 40th minute.
Although Matt Cracknell and Bloys launched a desperate counter and a Scatchard shot was deflected to keeper Lamb, it was Burnham who went closest before the break when Stevens’ looping shot-cross from the right produced a brave stop from Sheehan, who made contact with his upright.
Manager Paul Newbold’s half-time talk seemed to rally his troops and just two minutes into the second period, Redman found Burns whose last touch earned a corner when a goal looked more likely.
Burnham almost cleared the danger from the flag kick but a hand ball resulted in a well-struck penalty from Stefan Phillips to make it 2-1.
Eldridge attempted to chip Sheehan before Minehead’s urgency bore fruit with first Burns showing some old fashioned wizardry on the right, Graddon bringing a low save from Lamb, and then the two linking up for Graddon to find Redman, who made no mistake in front of goal to equalise on the hour.
Howells, Burns and then Bloys were replaced by Aaron Ireton, Robert Vickers and Callum Barnfield before Phillips was surprised to be yellow-carded and more so when he was shown a red, until the referee realised it was not his second yellow.
As the game neared its end, Mike Mullen and Newbold moved into more forward positions to try and unsettle the well-organised visitors, whose defence gave away few free-kicks and earned some precious offside decisions to ease the pressure.
But Burnham had slowly been making inroads into Minehead’s second half dominance, and they provided the killer blow with a well-taken goal by Eldridge, who was put clear on the right and found the net with just a few minutes to play.
Man of the match was Mike Graddon.
Minehead: Nathan Sheehan, Chris Newbold, Luke Bloys, Mike Mullen, Matt Cracknell, Harry Scatchard, Stefan Phillips, Luke Howells, Damion Redman, Mike Graddon, Guy Burns, subs Aaron Ireton, Robert Vickers, Callum Barnfield (all used), Sam Tarr.
l Minehead face Highbridge at home tomorrow (Saturday) in a re-arranged game, kicking off at 2.30pm.