Saturday’s 1-0 home defeat for Peacehaven against Canvey Island ultimately showed the gulf between an established Ryman Premier team, and one that has just been promoted, albeit with a record points total.
Having been able to retain the majority of last season’s squad, manager Shaun Saunders must be confident of having another good season as his side breaks new ground.
Things started brightly for the home side with early chances for Josh Jones, Steve Metcalf and promising young striker Charlie Pitcher. Critically, the towering presence of Hamilton in the away goal was well behind each opportunity.
Tom Lawley raced down the middle, and played in Jon Marzetti on the right wing. His centred ball for Pitcher was only parried by the keeper. Reclaiming his feet, Pitcher took another strike at goal, only to be closed down by the defence.
John Sands for the visitors had a stinging shot, superbly saved by Anthony DiBernado in the Haven goal.
Pushing forward, Tom Burton broke on the right and centred for Jones, who instead of shooting passed it onto Pitcher. In turn his shot was blocked and the chance was gone.
At half time, the match was well balanced.
As the second half began, Burton received a return ball from Pitcher just inside the box. His shot looked a certain goal, only for the outstretched hand of Hamilton, to incredibly turn it away for a corner.
The game seemed to change at this moment, with Canvey now growing in confidence. As they poured forward, a ‘mix up’ in the Haven defence allowed John Curran to score probably the easiest goal of his career.
From there, Haven showed a worrying lack of confidence and authority. Too many passes were short, hit in hope or just simply misplaced. Players arguing with each other did not bode well either.
A second goal for Canvey was rightly disallowed, as the ball had crossed the by-line in the build-up.
Just before the end, things should have been even worse for Saunders’ side. As the visitors impressively attacked with purpose, they found themselves five against two at the back. Somehow, they conspired to throw away the chance, with Sands guilty of a missing a totally open goal.
On this showing Peacehaven have found a clear step up from the Southern Division. Whilst new signings El-Abd and Pitcher need time to settle in, in departed Richards and Walker they have big boots to fill.