HEAVY morning rain made way for a beautiful afternoon as Seaford Town celebrated their first victory since the beginning of January, a run which has seen them lose seven successive matches and which left them five points adrift at the foot of the Sussex County League Division Two table. With relegation a distinct possibility, the relief of a 4-0 victory over Mile Oak was evident for all to see although this is only a small part of what needs to happen if the drop is to be avoided.
Recent games have seen Town be generous in defence, sloppy in attack and right out of luck. Perhaps there was a switch round in the luck as they were able to take full advantage of the type of defending which has blighted Town, while standing firm and determined at the back.
Before kick-off Mick Richards (above) found himself without the injured duo of Simon Stevens and John Summerbell, which meant a return for Scott Dartnall and first start for recent signing Dan Bateman. Sheldon Levett was also brought in between the posts in place of Ray Collier, who has had a particularly tough time recently.
Early in the game it looked as though Town were at their charitable best when Lewis Parsons header back to Levett fell woefully short and he was fortunate the recalled keeper spread himself wide to deny Aaron Ransom a free run on goal. For a change it was Seaford who took advantage of sloppy defending after 13 minutes when a misplaced back pass left Oak’s goalkeeper, Matt Grimstone in no-man’s land where Dan Bateman gratefully received the opportunity to slide the ball home and give Town the rarity of a lead.
Town were having the better of the exchanges in the first half, with a surging Parsons run from his own half setting up a chance for James McKenzie, whose shot was saved by Grimstone. Then at the other end Parsons was on hand to clear off his own line from the evergreen Tony Burnett.
Matt Rozzier replaced Scott Dartnall early in the second half and was soon involved in the action. The ball was played into the right of the penalty area where he was challenged by Grimstone who had raced off his line to intercept. Rozzier managed to pull the ball back away from him but as he tried to move into the space he had created he was unceremoniously hauled to the ground by the goalkeeper. Referee Robert Myhill had no alternative than to award a penalty, but he may have been a little lenient on Grimstone who could easily have been sent off but he chose to show a yellow card instead. McKenzie stepped up to smash the spot kick past him for Town’s second.
A two-goal lead was an unfamiliar position for Town but they weren’t about to let the valuable points slip away, even after McKenzie was dismissed for a mistimed challenge on an Oak midfielder. The Town player has been relishing his more withdrawn role of late but there was no immediate sign Town were going to allow his departure to upset them.
Indeed it was the Oakers who were under pressure and yet another sloppy piece of defending gave the ball to Bateman, who chased the ball across the face of goal before turning it back in past Grimstone to make the game safe. As the game entered added time Harry Mills won the ball in midfield and went on a mazy run upfield before laying the ball inside to Rozzier whose excellent finish left Grimstone groping at thin air. It was a fitting end to an excellent Town display and one which allowed them to close the gap above them, with three of the four sides they are chasing losing. They then faced a very tough game at Bexhill United on Tuesday evening but have no game scheduled for this weekend – their next scheduled match is tomorrow week when they visit Storrington in the league.
Meanwhile the Reserves finish off their home campaign with the visit of Newhaven to the Crouch tonight (Friday), kicking off at 7.30pm.
TOWN: Levett, Pooley, Barnett, Morton, Parsons, Porter, McKenzie, Mills, Dartnall (Rozzier), Bateman (Hamblin), Whittingham (Tullett).