NEWHAVEN took a giant step towards senior football with a 2-0 win at Forest on Saturday afternoon.
Second half goals from Tyler Goatcher and Dave Altendorff saw the Dockers move six points clear of third-place Pease Pottage, who don’t play until Wednesday.
The result took Newhaven a step closer to Division Two, and with it senior football. The Dockers have been languishing in Division Three since 1999, but are now just one point away from regaining senior status following this hard-fought win at Spooners Road.
After a goalless first, Goatcher gave Newhaven the lead early in the second half when he fired home from six yards. Forest had a goal ruled out for offside late in the game and then Dave Altendorff rubbed salt in the wounds with a deflected effort that found the corner of the net.
Newhaven made just one change from the team that had beaten Saltdean in the Intermediate Cup Final the previous Tuesday evening. Goalkeeper Graham Leach fractured his shoulder during the cup win so he was replaced by Jake Buss, who had played in goal for Peacehaven earlier in the season.
Forest had held Newhaven’s title rivals, Saltdean, to a draw the previous weekend, so the Dockers knew this would be a tough game. And so it proved in a first half that featured plenty of commitment and industry from the players, but was missing the final bit of quality needed to break the deadlock.
The closest the hosts came to a goal was a long range strike that flew narrowly over Buss’ crossbar. Lee Robinson had Newhaven’s best chance when he latched on to a Mark Probert through-ball but the winger could only prod wide on the stretch.
The hosts were lucky to keep 11 men on the pitch when William Brownlee, having already been booked for dissent, cynically brought down Robinson who had got away from the Forest man. The referee, rightly or wrongly, chose to keep his cards in his pocket on this occasion.
The opening goal came nine minutes into the second half. Altendorff picked up the ball in midfield and sent a perfect searching pass to Luke Duchossoy out on the right. Duchossoy drove into the box and sent over a low cross that found Goatcher, who made no mistake firing past Bruce Dumbrell in the Forest goal.
Newhaven now started to get on top of the game and were creating chances. Robinson did well to make himself some shooting space in the area but was again off target with his effort.
Dumbrell made a couple of decent saves to keep the score at one – first from an Altendorff header that he tipped over, and then from a Duchossoy right-footed strike that was palmed behind for a corner.
Robinson had the best chance of the lot to make the game safe. A deep Duchossoy corner was headed back across goal by Altendorff towards Robinson, who was just two yards out. All it needed was a little glance in to the net but Robinson got too much on the header and it drifted over.
It looked like Newhaven would be made to pay for their profligacy when Forest got the ball in the back of the net. A free kick was whipped into the box and Ross Swaine bundled it in to the goal. However, the referee’s assistant had his flag up though and the goal was ruled out.
With time running out Newhaven finally did find a killer second goal. Altendorff advanced with the ball towards the Forest penalty box. The midfielder had options either side but decided to take a shot on – and he was rewarded when the ball, almost apologetically, crept past Dumbrell, via a deflection. Game over.
The maths are simple for Newhaven now. A point at TD Shipley on Saturday will be enough for promotion to Division Two. The Dockers could already be up by the time they play if Pease Pottage fail to beat Ifield on Wednesday evening. If Saltdean lose at Broadbridge Heath tonight (Tuesday) then Newhaven could clinch the Division Three title at Shipley.
DOCKERS: Buss, Murray, Knight (c), Edwards, Knight, Breach, Probert, Altendorff, Robinson, Duchossoy, Goatcher.