The Magpies made the short journey to Three Bridges for their final match before Christmas and went with just the one change to the starting line-up as Ross Swaine's foot injury meant that he was only fit enough for the bench and made way for Joe Holvey.
The visitors nearly got off to a flying start the game when a swift 2-touch move between Jordan Warren, Naim Rouane and Michael Wood down the left, saw the latter cross for the onrushing Ollie Moore, but the forward couldn't get enough on the ball and his effort went wide.
After that free-flowing start, the game descended into the attritional battle that was widely expected, especially with the evidence of the keenly contested match at The Nest earlier in the season. As such it wasn't until the 18th minute that the next clear sight of goal came, and that was for the hosts, when Michael Campbell was controversially ruled to be onside when through on goal, but Sam Smith stood up very well and thwarted the striker. 11 minutes later saw the Magpies have a similar opening as Byron Napper slipped in Tiago Andrade, but this official's decision was to raise his flag.
The game began to open up more in the final stages of the half. Firstly, Amaraldo Glloga and Campbell had sights of goal for the hosts, but they were wayward with their strikes when both put under pressure by Eddie French. Then came arguably the clearest opportunity of the game for the visitors. After they broke at pace Moore laid the ball back to Wood whose stinging drive was well parried by Kieron Thorp in the Bridges goal, but the ball fell to the awaiting Andrade, however, Thorp did extremely well to get back up and block the follow-up with his foot and the danger was averted.
There was still time for three further attempts in the half as Glloga drove at goal again but saw his shot pushed wide by Smith, and from the resulting corner the ball was crossed by John Lansdale to Nathan Koo-Boothe, who had come up from the back, but his header came back off the bar, much to the relief of the Magpies defence. Moore concluded the half with a well-directed drive from 20 yards, but Thorp did well to get across and hold the ball to see out the first period.
Much had been made booth before the game and further still at half time of the hosts' propensity to capitalise on set pieces, and so it wasn't particularly surprising that they took the lead early in the second half from just that. Lansdale delivered a well-flighted ball into the area from a free kick and Jensen Grant did well to evade his marker before glancing the ball past Smith into the bottom corner, much to the delight of the home fans.
Undeterred, the Magpies fought their way back into the game following that set-back, and they were given a great opportunity in the 69th minute to restore parity when the referee did well to spot a deliberate handball by Jamie Crellin in the area to prevent an effort finding the back of the net, however it was somewhat perplexing to see the Bridges captain only being awarded a yellow card given the nature of the offence. To add insult to the injury, Andrade's resulting kick beat both Thorp and the target as the ball sailed into the midwinter sky.
Somewhat inevitably, the hosts took full advantage of this let-off and a mere 6 minutes later, they made the Magpies pay at another avoidable set-piece. An in-swinging from the right was met by the onrushing Lansdale at the near post and he neatly volleyed home to double the lead and effectively put the game beyond doubt.
Although the visitors kept applying pressure, they failed to create any clear opportunities to drag themselves back into the game and any momentum was somewhat lost following a lengthy delay following a robust challenge on Smith that saw the Loxwood 'keeper momentarily knocked unconscious. Given the nature of the injury, he was appropriately substituted, which presented Andy Barr with his 1st Team debut in his second spell at the Club.
Sure enough, the final whistle soon followed, and the Magpies were left rueing the opportunities that they had presented their opponents with in equal measure to those that they had failed to capitalise on themselves. Nevertheless, they look forward to returning home after Christmas where they will welcome Lancing before concluding 2017 with a visit to Pagham.
Team: Andrade, Bachelor (Jardim 77), French (Wright 83), Holvey, Mobsby, Moore, Napper, Raoune, Smith (Barr 88), Warren & Wood Subs not used: Dominique & Swaine