Eastbourne United score seven … Hassocks make it six wins in a row... Horsham YMCA held by Shoreham
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Eastbourne United 7 Saltdean 0
The Eastbourne United faithful turned up to the Oval on Saturday hoping for a win to put them back on track for the play-offs, but mindful of the fact that this could be a real banana skin – Saltdean United are fighting for their place in the league, and Tigers are always most dangerous when cornered.
In the event it was about as one-sided as you could get within the same division. Even before kick-off United fans were boosted but the return from injury of George Olulode, Hayden Beaconsfield and Charlie Ball - a trio who were always going to strengthen an already competitive line-up.
It didn’t take long for United to get their attack under way, and inside 10 minutes a great cross from Ed Ratcliffe saw Rhyle Ovenden opening his and United’s account. While the tannoy announcer was switching the mic on, Ratcliffe and Ovenden repeated the feat, the Saltdean defence looking in disarray.
The first half was dominated by United, and after 25 minutes Ovenden finished well after good work from Charlie Ball – it was 3-0 and a first hat-trick for Ovenden.
Anxious not to be seen to take the foot off the gas, United continued to lay siege to the Tigers’ goalmouth, and on 37 minutes, four or five passes led to Alfie Headland putting in a sublime cross for Callum Barlow to make it 4-0.
Just as the home fans were looking happily at the tea hut for a coffee and hot dog, Ball decided to take matters into his own hands with a glorious solo run and finished well to make it 5-0 at half-time.
A quieter second half followed, Olulode and Headland made way for Best and Gould, but the outcome was the same – more pressure on the Saltdean goal.
Barlow netted again but was offside, and he had to wait until the 72nd minute to make it 6-0. Beaconsfield left the fray and was replaced by Baran Kartal – Saltdean must have been thrilled to see yet another 16-year-old full of running join the fray, and Kartal it was on 85 minutes who completed the rout with a well taken debut goal.
His celebratory knee slide was enjoyed by an overjoyed United faithful (though the groundsman looked less happy). Ovenden took home the MoM award, and United move back into the play-off places.
Next Saturday they travel to Crawley Down Gatwick, one of the grounds where they have had no success at all in recent seasons; United will have to be at something like this same level to bring anything away and assert their credentials.
Hassocks 2 Little Common 1
Six consecutive wins are in the bag for Hassocks with this latest success over Little Common the hardest-fought and arguably most satisfying of the lot.
The second half was a battle for the Robins against Mother Nature, a numerical disadvantage and a Common outfit determined not to lose an unbeaten record at the Beacon stretching back to the 1993-94 season.
Horrific wind and rain was blowing towards Fraser Trigwell at the railway end of the Beacon. And when young Josh Mundy was red carded on the hour, Hassocks found themselves having to defend it for the most part with only 10 men.
Given the circumstances, a point seemed like an increasingly good result as the game headed towards its conclusion. But then Hassocks did what all the best sides do and found a way to win against the odds.
86 minutes were on the clock when Bradley Tighe - on his 200th appearance for the Robins - launched a long free kick down the pitch and into the Common box. Alex Bygraves headed down to the lesser-spotted Dan Turner, on as a substitute for only his third first team outing of the season.
Showing the sort of footwork you associate with a tricky winger rather than a centre back, Turner danced past two opposition players before firing beyond Common goalkeeper Tommy Searle at the near post.
Seasons can hinge on such moments and especially on victories ground out through sheer bloody-mindedness. As Hassocks assistant manager Tom Hughes said afterwards, this Robins side have a spirit “money can’t buy.” And goodness knows there are other clubs in the division doing their best to try and buy it.
15 minutes before Turner struck and there was an equally important intervention at the other end from Fraser Trigwell. Common stalwart Lewis Hole collected the ball on the left flank, cut inside and hit a shot from 30 yards which had enough power by itself without needing the additional help provided by the wind.
So destined for the back of the net did it look that half the visiting bench were already on their feet when Trigwell somehow pushed it around the post at full stretch. It was a magnificent piece of goalkeeping. The full time result would almost certainly have been different had Hassocks fallen 2-1 behind so soon after seeing Mundy dismissed.
There could be few complaints about the red card. A bouncing ball fell on halfway between Mundy and Common defender Josh Turner. Whereas Turner went in with his head lowered, Mundy challenged with a raised boot. The result was Turner taking studs to the face. It was misguided rather than malicious from Munday and something the teenager will undoubtedly learn from. He looked crestfallen and apologetic as he walked off.
Prior to that, Mundy had been enjoying a fine game. He was the first to let a wind-assisted shot go from distance, forcing Searle into a one-handed save onto the crossbar every bit as good as Trigwell’s later in the evening. The resulting corner was taken short between Mundy and Raging Joe Bull. When Bull delivered, the wind again caused chaos to prevent Common from clearing their lines.
In amongst the scramble, Julian Durand managed to poke the ball over the line to justify his selection up front with Jack Troak rested. Common levelled the game 18 minutes later from a Sam Crutwell free kick. Jack McLean came ghosting inside from the right flank to be taken out by Mike Williamson with a late tackle on the edge of the D.
Crutwell opted to shoot low and hard, the ball flying underneath the jumping wall to catch Trigwell unawares as it sped past the Hassocks number one diving right. Big Alex Fair was next to have a crack from range after being found by a Mundy cushioned volley pass.
Searle though was equal to Fair’s effort, parrying away. Lewis Parsons just beat Durand to the rebound, turning it behind for a corner. After the sides switched ends at the break, Common followed the Robins’ gameplan of peppering the goal with long distance drives in the hope conditions would lend a hand.
Soon after the restart and Adam Smith slipped just as he was about to shoot from 30 yards, meaning the ball dribbled harmlessly to Trigwell. Hassocks almost defied the weather to retake the lead on 55 minutes. Mundy sent a free kick into the box, Super Pat Harding could not quite get a shot away but the loose ball fell to Turner. A clean, powerful strike with the left foot whistled just past the post.
The final 30 minutes then brought the red card, Trigwell’s save, the Robins rearguard and eventually, Turner’s winner which moved Hassocks up to second in the Premier Division standings.
Hassocks: Trigwell; Blake, Bygraves, B Tighe, Bull; L Turner, Mundy, Williamson, Stephenson; Fair; Durand. Subs: D Turner, Harding, Troak, Khallouqi (used), Wilkes (unused).
Horsham YMCA 2 Shoreham 2
Still seeking an elusive win, since last notching up three points on Boxing Day, Horsham YMCA had to be content to share the spoils with visitors Shoreham, fellow occupants of the lower part of the table, in a close-fought game at Gorings Mead.
In a lively start there were corners at either end, before, in the 17th minute, Shoreham keeper Sam Marsden’s clearance found the head of Jamie Taylor, who calmly sent it back into the net for an entertaining opportunist goal.
Livewire Ramon Santos immediately shot wide from close range, but soon made amends, heading in a cross to level the score. Four corners followed – three to Shoreham – but the score remained 1-1 at the break.
YM came back out fighting, earning three more corners, and in a pinball session in the Shoreham goalmouth, the ball somehow stayed out. After doing everything except score, YM were rewarded midway through the second half, when Josh Neathey latched on to a cross to restore the lead.
Invigorated, Shoreham pressed hard, and, following two corners, Santos equalised with just four minutes of normal time left. With both sides pushing for two extra points, the frantic final minutes saw corners traded, but last ditch attempts were off-target, the result being a fair reflection.
YM assistant manager Andy Howard said: “We’re not quite getting the breaks at the moment – we created plenty of chances, especially in the second half. They had few chances, but turned them into goals – that seems to be the story of our season!
"We’ve got another home match on Saturday, against near neighbours in the table Little Common, when we’ll be pushing to get back to winning ways.”
Steyning Town 1 Loxwood 0Steyning Town made it six wins on the bounce with a narrow victory over Loxwood, keeping them in second position in the league.The close scoreline doesn’t really tell the true story of a match, in which Steyning dominated possession from the first minute to the last with the Loxwood keeper Jacob Terry producing an outstanding performance to keep the score just at one. At other end Lucas in the Town goal did not have a save to make all afternoon.
Having said that the visitors did make it very difficult for the Barrowmen and their midfield and back four defended superbly all afternoon to keep the scoreline to the single goal.That goal came a few minutes before half-time after great work down the right hand side by Meehan and Francis resulted in the former reaching the touchline and pulling back a low cross. At the second time of asking the in-form Tom Chalaye was there to slam home the ball from close range at the second attempt. Going in 1-0 up was a great boost for the Barrowmen.The second half, although still predominantly one-way traffic, did see Loxwood becoming slightly more adventurous and they made one or two breaks during the half, and won a few free kicks in dangerous positions, but these came to nothing.
At the other end Steyning were not at their best in the final third, and on another day could have scored a few more, but the finishing was not what it should have been. Terry made a few more fine stops to deny Meehan, Francis and Chalaye.
It was great to record another team sheet and gives the team a great boost of six wins on the spin as they head to Crowborough next Saturday afternoon for a tasty 3rd v 2nd clash.
Little Common 3 AFC Uckfield Town 1
Little Common made it back to back wins with a comfortable victory against AFC Uckfield Town on Saturday.
Common manager Russell Eldridge made one change to his starting line-up with Cam Thompson replacing Jack Thoms.
As happened the previous week, Common took an early lead from the penalty spot – scoring in the 9th minute when Thompson played in Jack McLean, who was clipped from behind in the area. The visitors were somewhat fortunate not to be reduced to ten men but Sam Cruttwell made no mistake with the resultant penalty.
Common should have extended their lead with Sam Ellis seeing a near post effort blocked and Lewis Hole had a header cleared off the line.
Common began the second half in similar fashion with Jamie Bunn firing over from the edge of the area before the second goal finally arrived in the 56th minute, Cruttwell's pinpoint pass released McLean who slotted home.
A third goal soon followed when Ellis saw a shot parried into the path of Thompson who netted his first goal for the club.
The visitors went on to to enjoy their best spell of the game and saw an effort flash past the far post before pulling a goal back with a free kick that found the top corner of the net.
Common had chances to extend their lead but Thoms saw an effort saved and Ellis saw an effort curl just over the bar.
Common sit 12th in the table.