BRIDPORT began 2022 in familiar fashion as second-placed Bridgwater United secured a 5-0 win on a soggy Fairfax Park surface.

The Bees have struggled mightily this season and must now lick their wounds after a 24th Toolstation Western League Premier Division loss of the campaign.

If Bridport’s form was not troubling enough, the Bees were for this fixture without a handful of players due to Covid-19, although caretaker boss Shaun Annetts returned from isolation in a timely boost.

Bridport’s defence was thrust into action early on to clear George King’s header off the line.

Bridgwater continued to apply pressure midway through the half when Jacob Spence headed against the crossbar.

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However, Bridport finally succumbed in the 29th minute when Ryan Brereton pounced on the loose ball after a second clearance off the line by the Bees’ defence.

Bridport keeper Greg Taylor, who was named Toolstation fans’ player of the month for December, made two good saves soon after, taking a knock to a delicate region just before half-time.

Having successfully kept the promotion chasers at bay, Bridport’s second-half vulnerability resurfaced when Sam Crumb cut inside and fired beyond Taylor.

Morgan Williams made it 3-0 on 56 minutes, finishing Thomas Llewellyn’s assist.

Josh Baker responded with a long-range shot for Bridport before Cameron Gauci hit the post.

The luckless Bees were even denied a consolation in a goalmouth scramble thanks to Williams’ block on the line.

And Bridgwater notched twice in the last 15 minutes as Llewellyn crossed for Crumb to head his second before Mark Armstrong nodded home a corner.

Bridport’s Harry Boulton ensured the Bees did not go out with a whimper, forcing keeper Jake Viney into a late save, but the visitors were again second best overall.

Speaking post-match, Annetts said: “It looked at one stage as if it wasn’t going to be anywhere near as bad (as 5-0).

“As we often have done, we went in at half-time only 1-0 down and defended quite well. Greg made two sharp saves and the goal we conceded was a lack of awareness.

“Conditions were atrocious. Most teams at the moment relish playing Bridport. I think had it been another game they would’ve called it off.

“But because it’s Bridport and the chance of improving goal difference, that’s why the game was played.

“It was a leveller, both teams struggled to keep their feet.

“I asked the players not to let themselves down and not do what we’ve done time and again where we’ve worked hard for 45 minutes and thrown it away in the second half.

“Unfortunately, we conceded the second and third within quick succession.

“All our hard work was being undone.”

Bees: Taylor, Mamanta, Greenwood-Neate, Owen, Hawker, A Steele (Brook 75), Baker, McAllister (Etherington 70), Hill (Burwood 65), Boulton, Radivojsa.

Attendance: 287