Little Common take derby honours – Steyning win two in row - Haywards Heath see off Hassocks

Little Common took the honours in the Bexhill derby with a convincing 2-0 victory on Monday morning at Bexhill United.
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The Commoners made one change to their starting line-up with Jack McLean coming in to replace Dom Corbin and it was the visitors who made a fast start at the Polegrove.

Lewis Hole thought he had opened the scoring after just five minutes when he rose highest to nod home a Russell Eldridge delivery but the Common front man was deemed to have been offside. The Common faithful didn’t have to wait long for the opener which arrived in the 11th minute when Alfie Lambden picked up a loose ball on the edge of the area and rifled an effort into the top corner.

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Common looked to make their dominance count and almost added a second through Hole but his effort was diverted for a corner. The second goal did arrive in the 20th minute when Eldridge’s through ball was met by Jack Thoms who delicately lifted the ball beyond the onrushing Bexhill keeper.

Pagham and Midhurst play out a 1-1 SCFL premier division draw at Nyetimber Lane | Picture: Roger SmithPagham and Midhurst play out a 1-1 SCFL premier division draw at Nyetimber Lane | Picture: Roger Smith
Pagham and Midhurst play out a 1-1 SCFL premier division draw at Nyetimber Lane | Picture: Roger Smith

The hosts rarely threatened but did almost pull a goal back when Joe Summerbell struck the outside of the post. Hole saw another effort blocked and Paul Feakins fizzed an effort wide as the half ended 2-0.

It was Common who made a bright start to the second half and almost added a third when McLean’s cutback was met by Hole but his effort was smothered by the home keeper. Thoms saw an effort pushed to safety before the hosts went on to enjoy their best spell of the game.

The Common defence dealt well with some increased pressure and the closest the hosts came to reducing the deficit was when Adam Smith was on hand to twice clear off the line and an effort was lifted over the bar following a delivery from a free kick.

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At the top of the SCFL premier Steyning maintained their four-point lead over Newhaven – Steyning won 2-0 at Shoreham while Newhaven beat Peacehaven 1-0.

There were also wins for Crowborough, Eastbourne Town and Haywards Heath.

Midhurst & Easebourne 0 Steyning Town 5

Shoreham 0 Steyning Town 2

by Richard Woodbridge

Seven goals scored. None conceded. Six points in the bag. It was fair to say Easter weekend was a decent one for Steyning Town FC men's first team in their promotion hunt.

The action for the team started wqith a tricky looking game away to Midhurst FC, who caused them plenty of problems in the reverse fixture earlier in the season when Town ran out narrow 2-1 winners. After heavy downpours in the week the Midhurst groundstaff had done a great job in providing a decent playing surface.

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Town were still without the free scoring Tom Chalaye in the starting eleven, but his return to take a place on the bench will have please everyone involved.

Steyning started off playing up the hill and started pretty slowly in all honesty as Midhurst were quicker and faster to the ball in midfield and were creating some pressure at the Town end, however not really able to create any chances of note.

Town themsleves were playing fairly directly in the early stages but were conceding possession too easily, however they did fashion a decent opportunity that Radley-Martin slid wide of the post. However they didn’t have to wait too long for an opener as Meehan was bundled over in the box.Skipper Barnes stepped up and rifled home.

Two minutes later on 33 minutes there was a second goal as Meehan raced clear again and squared to Goldson for the most simple of finishes. Steyning could scarcely beleive they were two up after such a slow start.

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However Midhurst were clearly rattled and seemed to fully lose their heads as Meehan was bundled over yet again, following a Shooman strike against the post, and another penalty awarded. Barnes again fired home with confidence.

The second half continued in the same vein as the end of the first with Town now well on top and looking for more. On 47 minutes Radley-Martin thunded a 25 yarder again the crossbar before on 50 minutes the fourth goal came. A well worked move down the right by the impressive Weller, linking up with Meehan and Radley-Martin, and the final ball across the box found Goldson at the far post firing home for his second of the afternoon. Game over.

Goldson was clealy now hunting his hat-trick as he clipped a clever near post chance over the keeper but it just dropped over the bar. The hosts were clearly sitting back on a bit of a damage limitation exercise.

They did a pretty good job of that until the final minute as Barnes played in Shooman down the left and one on one with the keeper he coolly dinked it past him for a lovely finish. The icing on the cake from a good perforamce (except that first 20!!) and a tough looking fixture out of the way.

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Easter Monday morning saw Town travel down the road to Shoreham. Only one change to the starting XI from Saturday as Fuller came in to the side and Francis, carrying a small knock, dropped to the bench.

What played out was quite a bizarre 90 minutes of football. Town dominated for long periods, however Shoreham sat in and defended well across midfield and the back four. A goal on 13 minutes was a good reward for Town's fast start. Radley- Martin played a cute pass round the corner on the edge of the box and Shooman raced on to his pass and fired home with a crisp strike in to the bottom left hand corner.

After the goal the whole Town team seemed to go flat. Poor passing, miscontrolling and slow play, along with a rather pedantic referreeing display all added to frustration as the half wore on. Shoreham certainly sensed a bit of uneasiness in the Town ranks and Lucas pulled off a cracking save from a 25 yarder and then Diallo seemed certain to equalise with a header from point blank range with the goal gaping, but incredibly he missed the ball alltogether when it seemed easier to score. Half time 1-0 but very much game on.

The second half was another tesnse a slightly frustrating affair as Shoreham thwarted much of which Steyning threw at them. Their biggest chance of the half fell to ex Barrowman Max Howell with 20 minutes to go as he hit a thumping strike from a low cross and Lucas pulled off a sensational diving, instinctive save that drew applause and disbelief in equal measure from all sides of the ground. A truly stunning save.

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Minutes later, on 78 minutes, Town made the most of this let off as a Francis corner was headed goalwards by Nathan Cooper and the other Nathan, Nathan Da Costa, his centre back partner, was there to nod home from close range for 2-0. Chalaye was on the pitch and was denied a comeback goal by a strong save by Mendonca at the near post.

There was still time for some more action as Street for Shoreham was red-carded for a crude high tackle on Fuller leaving a very nasty gash all down his shin, and in the melee that followed two other Shoreham players were sinbinned, including the keeper, which meant Magic Mayckol Sabino went in the sticks for the final 10 minutes.

There was still time for a further bizarre twist as Shooman was also sinbinned for Town after a spectator gave the referee a peice of his mind. He clearly thought this came form the Town man, which it didn’t, which meant the last ten minutes were playing out in a farcical 10 v 8 match where neither side really seemed interested to put in much effort as Town passed the ball around the back four and midfield pretty unopposed.

A strange end to a rather strange game where a comfortable win could easily have been something else if it hadn't been for a couple of stunning saves from the Town No1.

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The two wins leave Steyning top of the table, but Crowborough and Newhaven are right on their tails.

Next up for Steyning is Saltdean FC at home on Saturday.

SCFL premier

Haywards Heath Town took Mid Sussex bragging rights by beating Hassocks 2-0 at the Home Smart Energy Stadium in a tense, nervy Easter Monday Derby. And with their win, the Bluebells ensured the race for the Southern Combination Premier Division play-offs is likely to go down to the wire.

You have to go back to the 1992-93 season to find the last time the Robins defeated Heath in a competitive fixture. Whilst Hassocks had the better of the second half here, they were unable to seriously extend Mitch Bromage in the home goal to end that barren run.

At the other end, Heath converted two of the limited opportunities which came their way in an encounter of few clear cut chances. Regarding the league table, the result dropped Hassocks to fifth - the final playoff spot. The Robins are now only three points ahead of Heath, who crucially have a game in hand and a superior goal difference.

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Derby day between Hassocks and Heath had rarely seen so much riding on it. You could cut the tension with a knife amongst the crowd before kick off, an atmosphere reflected on-the-pitch by a turgid game.

Somewhat unsurprisingly in the circumstances, both sides looked like they did not want to lose rather than go out and win. Entertainment was therefore in short supply. Heath did at least raise a laugh come the full time whistle, blaring out ‘Money, Money, Money’ by ABBA over the PA - presumably in response to the much-talked about difference in budget between the two rivals.

Earlier in the campaign, that difference allowed Heath to entice Hassocks’ top scorer Liam Benson to Hanbury. Approaches for other Robins players have been made and whilst James Westlake has managed to keep his squad together bar Benson, it highlights the difficulty Hassocks will face in convincing players to stay at the Beacon next season without offering financial incentive.

To the football and a bizarre fifth minute sequence involving referee Tazlim Ali and assistant Harry Cushen provided the first talking point. Heath forward Finn Daniels-Yeoman was brought down for what appeared a stonewall penalty.

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As Mr Ali waved play on, Mr Cushen kept his flag raised. After the game continued for a couple of minutes, Mr Ali brought things to a halt to consult his assistant.

Remarkably, the outcome of this chat was not a spot kick, but play restarting via a Hassocks drop ball. Erroneous or not, the consensus amongst the Robins contingent at full time was that Mr Ali’s decision not to give a penalty contributed to him “making up for it” by awarding a very soft 79th minute spot kick, allowing Byron Napper to kill the game off.

After that early chaos and confusion, Heath looked the most likely to open the scoring as they dominated the first half. Bull made a superb sliding block to prevent Benson converting into an empty goal after rounding Trigwell.

Under a minute later and Emmanuel Abudiore lobbed a bouncing onto the roof of the net. Next came the first sight of goal for Hassocks. Harvey Blake launched an up-and-under into the box, palmed away by a strong Bromage hand as it looked like it might loop in.

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Chances remained few and far between, even after Finn Daniels-Yeoman put the Bluebells ahead on the half hour mark.

Heath strung together a nice passing move to give Daniels-Yeoman a sight of goal and although Bull blocked the first effort, the Bluebells forward picked out the top corner at the second attempt. On the subject of air, a set piece bombardment looked the most likely way for Hassocks to get back into it.

First half injury time saw a Hassocks corner half-cleared to Mike Williamson on the edge of the box. His header back towards goal was glanced just wide by Matt Gunn. Combining to deny Heath a second shortly after the break were Gunn and Bull, sliding in at the same time to block a Lewis Finney shot.

Understandably, Heath became content to defend what they had. Turner’s trebuchet of a long throw caused them the most problems, Bromage having to punch a Gunn header clear at full stretch followed by Troak nodding off target.

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Now displaying excellent game management whilst looking dangerous playing on the counter, Heath scored their second with 11 minutes remaining via that questionable penalty awarded when Turner won the ball in a fair challenge on Abudiore. Taking duties fell to home captain Napper, who was calmness personified in riffling past Trigwell to double the lead.

Seconds after the restart and Hassocks earned a free kick 35 yards out. Josh Mundy surprised everyone by going for goal other than Bromage, who palmed away at full stretch in what proved to be the last chance of the game.

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