Friday, 24th April, 1899
match, played on the County Ground on Saturday, the contest for thee
championship. Bedminster had ability of the Town team to secure a
victory was somewhat shaken by the reverse sustained on the Bedminster
ground only on the previous Monday, to say nothing of the disaster at
Gravesend just two days before. Bedminster made some changes to their
team, Cox (captain of the team) displacing Whitehouse in goal; Brookes
appearing for Kelso at back, and Bell instead of Lamont at half. Mr.
Tillotson was the referee, and the teams were:- Swindon - Menham, goal;
Shutt and Logan, backs; G. Richardson, Henderson and Smith, half-backs;
Sharples and Anthony, right wing; Little, centre; Coupar and Kirton,
left wing. Bedminster - Cox, goal; Brooks and Crone, backs; Bell,
Stewart and McDonald, half-backs; McVean and Massie, right wing;
Leonard, centre; Copeland and Gray, left wing.
After a preliminary canter by the home forwards in the (???), Bedminster shot wide from a free-kick, and the game went rather more in their favour for a time, until Henderson brought the leather away and drove in a long shot. Little missed a chance and the Bedminster right got hold clearly off-side and the centre forward produced a goal., Massie being the last player to touch the ball. The goal was another sample of the bad luck which had been attending the Town's efforts all through. From the restart Kirton went off strongly but could not beat Cox, who also punched away a good shot by Anthony. Bedminster were next to attack, Menham being injured in saving from Gray. Upon the resumption Swindon worked very hard to get upon terms, and after Cox had smartly saved from a corner he fairly brought down the house with a magnificent piece of goal-keeping at close quarters. A further corner for Swindon was as unproductive as all its predecessors, the Town now playing just as poorly as they had played well before the interval, Bedminster showing a contrasting improvement. Sharples once had an open field and though he put on full steam ahead he was so worried by Stewart that he was forced to shoot wide, but directly afterwards had the satisfaction of placing the scores level in negotiating a centre from Coupar, who was now playing on the outside-left, with Kirton in the centre. The equalisation was received with cheers, and both sides threw more energy into subsequent movements, Bedminster soon being penalised for fouling. Some smart checking by Logan and the halves cut short a Bedminster assault, and the ball was sent down to Coupar, who centred beautifully, and Sharples headed into Cox's hands, and in some exciting play around the Bedminster goal the keeper twice saved from the same forward. The Town were again having all the play, and working like blacks, but try as they might they could not steer the leather into the net, the ball again and again being driven in hard and returning off the bodies or heads of their opponents, who were packing their goal splendidly. Cox saved well from Henderson, Anthony and Kirton, and frequently the ball was sent just over or outside the goal - everywhere but in the correct spot; Cox successfully negotiated everything which came straight, receiving grand assistance from Crone, Brookes and the halves; indeed, the efforts of the whole Bedminster team were utilised in defence. At length, Sharples drew blood, winding up a lot of short passing by driving home a perfect net breaker which Cox did not even see. Play only wanted a few minutes to run, and Swindon looked like getting further ahead from a grand centre from Coupar, but Cox got to the ball before Little, and Bedminster got away, Menham just turning the ball aside. The Town dashed back and after Cox had saved from Sharples, Little put on a hard shot, and at the end the figures were:-