League football's back! Broadbridge Heath are early top dogs

The SCFL premier division resmued at the weekend - and there were contrasting fortunes for a couple of West Sussex County Times-area teams.

II's hats off to Broadbridge Heath - who have gone top after just two games. But Roffey had a tough opening match after promotion from division one. Here's the reports...

Little Common 0 Broadbridge Heath 1

Broadbridge Heath began the new league season with a win in East Sussex.

Ben Cooksley turns to celebrate the winner against Little Common | Picture: Chris Gregory for SCFL

Heath made the long journey to face a tough Little Common side on a hard, bobbly pitch. The game was played at a frantic pace early doors as both sides battled the conditions on a humid afternoon.

Heath had the greater share of the possession but Little Common always looked like they could cause trouble with long direct balls from both the keeper and experienced player-manager Russell Eldridge.

Heath were awarded a penalty on six minutes. Good build up play between new signing Sam Lemon and Mason Doughty, resulted in Lemon being brought down in the box and the referee pointed to the spot.

Jamie Taylor stepped up to take the kick but the Little Common No1 saved comfortably.

Roffey and Eastbourne Town do battle at the Theatre of Trees

On 42 minutes good play from Heath finished with a long-range strike by Matt Penfold narrowly going wide of the post.

Heath continued to push forward after the break with Doughty having a shot well saved and then Taylor having a deflected shot tipped on to the post excellently by the home keeper.

Then, with time running out, it was down to young substitute Ben Cooksley to score the winner in the 80th minute.

Good play down the right hand side allowed Frankland to shoot, and the defender’s block fell to Cooksley who rifled home much to the delight of the travelling Bears supporters.

Heath comfortably saw out the remainder of the game to seal a good three points away from home.

Man-of-the-match was Matt Penfold

Heath boss Chris Simmons said: “The lads worked really hard and kept trying to play the right way and were rewarded in the end. Getting the three points away from home against a tough side is the perfect start for us.”

Broadbridge Heath 2 Steyning Town 0

Heath manager Chris Simmons made just one change for the visit of Steyning Town bringing in Louis Evans for his first start for the club in place of the unavailable Tom Familton, Jamie Chesworth also coming into the squad as substitute.

Heath started on the front foot and should have taken an early lead when Jamie Taylor ran down the right flank and crossed the ball into the path of Sam Lemon at the far post but the striker somehow put the ball high over the crossbar from 6 yards.

Ten minutes later Mason Doughty shrugged off two defenders, got into the penalty area but was denied by Steyning keeper Lucas Stendela-Goeteke who quickly sprinted off his line to block. Minutes later Doughty put Jamie Taylor through with only Stendela-Goeteke to beat, this time as the keeper came off his line the Heath striker tried a delicate lob over his head but he'd put too much welly on it and the ball dropped over the bar.

Heath finally broke the deadlock midway through the half, a long ball forward was flicked on by Taylor to Lemon who split the defence with an inch perfect pass that allowed Doughty to run through and place his shot wide to the keepers left into the bottom corner of the net to make it 1-0.

Heath continued to look dangerous on the attack and in the closing minutes of the half a long ball forward allowed Taylor to chase down, the keeper came way out of his goal to clear but missed the ball completely allowing Taylor to compose himself before trying a right foot chip from 30 yards, over the retreating defenders heads but once again the Heath strikers effort was wide of target and somehow the score remained 1-0 at the break.

The visitors came out with far more urgency in the second period and for a while it looked like Heath might come to regret some of those missed chances.

Gradually though Heath took control again and another great chance went begging on 70 minutes when Doughty played in Lewis Croal who hit a right foot shot that came off the keepers legs and straight to Lemon who struck it first time only to see his shot come off the foot of the post and out to safety.

On 80 minutes Steyning’s Jack Barnes was shown a second yellow for a late challenge on Charlie Weller and Heath dominated the remaining minutes with Cooksley finally getting that second goal in the 89th minute when he ran at the defence with pace, beat two players and this time instead of passing to a teammate, the Heath youngster hammered a right foot shot that flew low past the Steyning keeper into the net to put the game to bed and making it two wins from two games for The Bears. MOM was Louis Evans

Boss Chris Simmons said: "The pitch really helped us today, Peter & Matt have done such a fantastic job to give us that surface to play on, and it allowed us to knock the ball around and attack with pace, the new additions and last year's squad have gelled so well already.

"The only disappointing thing about the game was that we should have scored more. Louis Evans coming in for his competitive debut was excellent, he must of covered every blade of grass out there. We are looking forward now to a really tough game Saturday away at Littlehampton in the FA Cup."

Heath: Hadfield, Frankland, Terry (Chesworth 75), Waddingham, Sim, Evans, Penfold, Weller, Doughty (Cooksley 72), Taylor (Croal 63), Lemon. Unused Subs: Clark, Baston.

Broadbridge Heath visit Littlehampton Town – newly promoted to the Isthmian League – in the extra preliminary round of the FA Cup on Saturday.

Roffey 0 Eastbourne Town 3

Terry Eames took the helm for Roffey’s first ever game in the SCFL Premier but after finishing as champions in Division One last season, it was a very young side that took on Eastbourne Town.

Town – the oldest club in Sussex – also had a new manager with Jude Macdonald fielding a new-look squad, but with more experience to back up his younger players.

The visitors took the lead after 11 minutes when Tyler Capon reacted fastest to sweep in a cross.

Such an early goal could have deflated the young Boars but they dug in and mainly kept Town at arm’s length with Jacob Bennett having to make two great saves from just inside and outside the box.

At the other end midfield dynamo James Pearse and under-18 Morgan Prill saw shots go narrowly off target to leave the half-time score at 0-1.

Roffey knew if they could stay in the game they could give it a real go in the last part of the game.

Unfortunately, on the hour, ex-Haywards Heath player Lloyd Cotton got between two defenders to head Eastbourne into a two-goal lead.

The task now looked tough for the tiring young Boars and, although they continued to hold Town at bay, they were unable to threaten Chris Winterton in the visitors’ goal.

The visitors remained stronger to the end with Jacob James Minty converting a cross to make it 3-0 in the 75th minute.

Roffey could have subsided at this point but battled on to the end to leave the score unchanged.

The Boars only had three of last year’s championship winning team - Brendan Milborrow, Aaron Collins and Pearse – plus new signing Bennett in the squad, with rest being made up of under-23s and under-18s.

There is obviously a lot of potential in the young players but they will need more senior players around them to help them develop and enable Roffey to start picking up points in the Premier Division.

Roffey: Bennett, Collins, E Prill, Gibbs, Milborrow, Cranston, Pearse, Relleen, Jannells, M Prill, Hanslow. Subs: Dunne, Hastings, Briggs, Smith, Stephens.

SAM CHAPMAN