Strange season has disappointing ending for Newhaven

Newhaven’s 2020/21 season came to a disappointing end as they were dumped out of the SCFL Premier Division Supplementary Cup at the semi-final stage by Loxwood.

Thursday, 13th May 2021, 1:09 pm
Updated Thursday, 13th May 2021, 1:10 pm
Newhaven in action at Eastbourne Town in the shield group stages / Picture: Joe Knight

The Dockers – leading 2-1 – were minutes from heading to the final, but a late equaliser from Tadley Bromage sent the tie to penalties where the hosts eventually prevailed, winning 8-7 after ten spot-kicks each.

Loxwood had switched the fixture to Worthing’s Woodside Road ground, and a bright start from Newhaven on the 3G surface saw Ian Robinson’s 19th minute penalty give them an early lead.

The ‘home’ side had a penalty themselves 15 minutes later, with referee Peter Dingle confusing both teams by first booking a Loxwood player for diving, before consulting his assistant and awarding a penalty. Luke Brodie made no mistake form the spot to level things up.

Newhaven were back in front five minutes after half-time as Lukas Franzen-Jones’ fine strike from the edge of the box curled and dipped beautifully into the far corner.

But there was to be late drama as a Loxwood free-kick on the halfway line was lofted in to the box and Bromage rose highest to nod his side level again and take the tie to penalties.

A dramatic shoot-out saw both teams take ten each, but it was Loxwood who held their nerve and booked their place in the final after winning 8-7.

Newhaven joint-manager Andy Cook pulled no punches after the game, calling it ‘one of our worst performances of the season.’

“It was a very disappointing outcome and never easy to lose on penalties,” said Cook. “But in truth we chose the semi-final to put in one of our worst performances of the season.

“Unfortunately, we didn't really turn up and apart from a good opening twenty minutes we were quite poor by our standards.

“We had no excuses on the day as we were nearly at full strength, we were playing on the 3G pitch at Worthing – which is a playing surface we really enjoy – and should have been full of confidence.

“Taking the lead with a penalty fairly early should have settled us down and after this we had two very good chances, which the keeper did very well to save from close range.

“Then came a very strange passage of play as a ball into our area caused some confusion and the striker ends up going over with what looked like no contact from our keeper, Jake Buss.

“The referee agreed, booked the striker for diving, then after consulting the assistant on the far side reversed the decision, awarded a penalty and booked Bussy! It was something we had not experienced before.

“This brought the game all square and it had an impact on our performance. Credit to Loxwood, they pressed us and squeezed high up the pitch on the counter, trying to turn us as often as they could and we just couldn't control the game like we usually do.

“We tinkered the formation a bit second half and got our noses in front again with a fine finish from Lukas, but then didn't push on.

“We should have seen the game out, but to concede like we did in the last minute to take the game to penalties was very poor, but mistakes happen and that's life.

“The lottery of penalties then decides it. Despite having a chance to win it at the fifth penalty, we missed and then eventually lost, and it summed up a very disappointing afternoon. Good luck to Loxwood in the final.

“So, that brings this very strange season to an end and we will now rest up for the next month or so to recharge the batteries and go again next season where Breachy and I will be even more determined to achieve success after two disrupted seasons.”