NEWHAVEN moved four points clear at the top of Division Three after winning this top-of-the-table clash with Pease Pottage at Fort Road.
The victory puts daylight between Newhaven and Pottage, who drop to third following Saltdean’s win against Roffey.
Tom Tolfrey hit the bar and Tyler Goatcher had a shot saved in a goalless first half. Ryan Knight gave Newhaven the lead when he rose highest to head in a free-kick, but Tolfrey levelled soon after with a close range strike. Mark Probert restored Newhaven’s advantage, when he turned in a cross from the right, and then made sure of the points with a header from a corner.
Newhaven made just one change from the team that had beaten TD Shipley the previous Tuesday night. Probert returned to the starting line-up, replacing Jordan Cole, in midfield. Daniel Murray filled in at right back and Kerry Mayo started in the holding role in midfield. Cole, Jason Goddard, Ryan Walton, Paul O’Donnell and Luke Vidler made up a full subs’ bench. Pease Pottage started the game well and Tolfrey smashed an early 25-yard drive against the bar. The Newhaven defence had to stand firm against a lively Pottage attack, in the opening exchanges, and goalkeeper Graham Leach was called upon on a couple of occasions.
Up the other end Goatcher forced Martin Francis into a fine save, when he got behind the defence and through one-on-one.
Further clear-cut chances were few and far between and neither side could keep the ball for long enough to sustain any pressure, thus the teams went in to the break level at 0-0.
Newhaven came out for the second half looking like they had a point to prove. The hosts started the half in the ascendancy and it wasn’t long before they broke the deadlock.
The referee awarded Newhaven a free-kick out on the right after Lee Robinson was brought down. Mayo whipped in a dangerous cross and Knight rose highest to head past the stranded Francis for the lead. The setback for the visitors seemed to spur them on and they almost equalised immediately, but an offside flag denied them before the ball has been put in to the net.
It wasn’t long before the visitors were level though. Tolfrey received the ball in the box, let it run across his body to get away from the marking defender and then fired past Leach from close range.
Newhaven had to push on again to regain the advantage, and they did just that after 65 minutes. Mayo played a ball down the right for Robinson to run on to. Robinson beat a defender and then sent in a cross that Goatcher left for Probert to hit first-time and send a looping shot over, and out the reach of Francis. One sensed the scoring wasn’t finished, and so it proved when Newhaven made the game safe with three minutes to play. Another Mayo set-piece, this time a corner, was met by the head of Probert. The midfielder’s contact wasn’t the cleanest, but it was enough to again loop over Francis.
Newhaven travel to Ifield on Saturday in what will be a prequel to the Good Friday Cup Final between the two teams, looking to extend their lead at the top with Saltdean and Pease Pottage meeting that same day.
DOCKERS: Leach, Murray, Knight (c), Edwards, Knight, Mayo, Holmes (Goddard), Probert, Robinson, Goatcher, Flynn (Cole).
SALTDEAN won that game against Roffey 4-1 at Hill Park. Goals came from Arron Redman (36 mins), James Bentley (39 mins), Kane Louis (82 mins) and Ebou Jallow (87 mins). Jordan Ruffgot Roffey’s reply on 44 minutes.