Roffey 2-1 Arundel - SCFL division one - report by Sam Chapman
Roffey returned to action to face Arundel, who had recently slipped back into the relegation zone. Due to problems with the drainage at Chennells Brook, the game took place at Horsham FC. Although Chris Neatherway was missing through illness, manager Andy Lampard had the strongest squad for months but stuck to a similar starting XI from the 8-2 victory over Montpelier Villa back on December 18.
Whether it was the unfamiliar environment or the long lay-off, Roffey took a long time to get in their stride with much of the first half a scrappy affair with Arundel clearly showing they meant business, taking the lead after a corner when Nathan Monk drilled home through a crowd of players after 18 minutes. This seemed to spur the home side and they started to get behind Arundel and earn a series of corners. From one of these Hayden Neathey rose highest to power a header just under the bar to bring Roffey level.
Although there were signs of Roffey getting their normal passing game going, Arundel still showed they were a threat and put several dangerous balls into the Roffey area which had to be dealt with by a home defence that was already without Jamie Robinson who had limped off after a nasty challenge on 15 minutes. But half time arrived with no more serious action for Jack Hickman and Ed Harvey in their respective goals.
As the second half began, it became clear that Roffey were going to be more patient and look after possession more than they had in the first. They gradually took control and began to make dangerous inroads into the visitors’ penalty area but Hickman and his defence continued to thwart Jack Ryder, Jamie Wanstall and Johden de Meyer. It looked as if the breakthrough would come when Josh Neathey jinked into the box, and was tripped by an Arundel defender. The whistle blew and there were no complaints from the defence but as the yellow card was produced, there was general surprise as Neathey was booked for diving.
The visitors’ relief was short-lived when Neathey again showed quick feet in the area and this time was clearly, scythed down by a mistimed challenge. Neathey himself got up to make no mistakes from the spot. With 12 minutes to go Roffey continued to press for a third and Hickman who was carrying a knock made two excellent blocks to keep his side in the game. The final few minutes saw Arundel throw men forward and threaten the home goal only to find the safe hands of Harvey, and Roffey keeping possession whenever they could near the Arundel goal line.
After six minutes stoppage time, the whistle went and Roffey had overcome a tricky match and maintained their challenge for promotion. With Epsom and Ewell losing this left the Boars one point behind leaders Midhurst, with 3 games in hand. The first of these is the re-arranged derby at Billingshurst this evening (Tuesday).
Roffey: Harvey, Jardim, Robinson(Maher), H Neathey, Millorrow, J Pearse, Law(D Pearse), Ryder(Wanstall), Andrade, J Neathey Subs: Swaine, Collins.
Storrington 1 Billingshurst 3 - SCFL division one
Despite them coming five weeks apart, Billingshurst made it three straight wins as they eased to a comfortable 3-1 victory away at local rivals Storrington on Saturday. Goals from Matt Rendell, Archie Goddard and a Nick Tilley screamer all coming in the first half helped 'Hurst come from a goal behind in the Division 1 clash.
It was Lee Spicket's side's first league fixture since a 6-1 demolition of Hailsham back on December 11 which was followed by a raft of postponement over the festive period. The Jubilee Fields outfit kept themselves active, however, and went into the game following a good workout in an 8-3 win over division-higher Loxwood last midweek.
Hurst boss Spickett said: "I was really pleased to be back playing competitive football after five weeks with no league game. Although we gave an early goal away, I thought it was a real comfortable performance against a very hard working side. Our attacking play at times is so good, we have plenty of pace and directness. We could, and we probably should, have scored a few more. The games are coming thick and fast now and we just need to focus on a game at a time to put a run together to push us up the table."
The visitors made the worst possible start as after just three minutes, Lewis Reeves misplaced a pass across the back line and Harry Gallis pinched the ball and finished one-on-one despite Andy Barr getting a hand to his effort. Parity was restored just four minutes later as Sam Bull put in a dangerous corner and Rendell ghosted in and planted a firm header home.
A relentless 'Hurst led on 11 minutes as the impressive Bull flicked the ball past his man and drove into the box, but was felled from behind. Goddard stepped up to send Olly Howley the wrong way from the penalty spot. The goal of the game came on 27 minutes when Goddard flicked the ball up and into the box to Tilley and the Billingshurst man hit a left-foot volley into the top corner from outside the box.
Harry Smith could have extended the lead before the break as he turned a low cross towards goal, but was denied by a point-blank save from Howey.
After the break, Storrington regrouped and saw a good share of the ball without really causing their visitors too many problems. They did have a great chance to pull one back on the hour mark as substitute Sean Kenward struck a sweet half volley towards goal and Barr, who had swept excellently all game, was this time on the back foot and pushed one just over the bar.
'Hurst then had a good spell of their own with Goddard sending an effort just wide of the far post after a neat turn, while Tilley blasted over after some neat footwork from Callum Nash and Smith and Jake Chadwick fired at the goalkeeper. Special mention to Jack French for a superb showing in defensive midfield and brilliantly slipping into the back three.
* Billingshurst now host Roffey on Tuesday night at Jubilee Fields with a 7.45pm KO .