Thursday, 29 December 2011

Redhill 0 v 1 Lingfield

Tuesday 27th December 2011
Sussex County League Division 1
Kiln Brow, Redhill
Admission: £6.00
Programme: £1.00
Attendance: 100 (estimate)
Match Rating: 3

At the conclusion of my early afternoon game at Windsor, a double was made possible with several Sussex County League fixtures taking place in the evening. With logisitcs narrowing the choice down to matches at Redhill or Three Bridges, I settled for the Surrey derby between Redhill and Lingfield.

Kiln Brow is located about two miles south of Redhill town centre, alongside the A23 and within a stone's throw of East Surrey Hospital, and is about a half hour walk from Redhill rail station. Earlswood rail station is about half the distance, but is served much less frequently. The ground is not particularly pleasing on the eye, although improvements have been made in recent years since my last visits. After one enters the turnstiles, there used to be a real hotchpotch of red portakabins stretching along the length of the pitch, but these have now been replaced by a more permanent clubhouse, a building resembling a house for the changing rooms, and most recently an all-seater stand has been installed straddling the half way line. Obviously unable to resist temporary buildings, there are a couple of green prefab buildings housing the clubhouse and tea bar. There is a small stand for standing in the corner behind one of the goals, with just hard standing around the rest of the pitch. It is fair to say Kiln Brow would not gain many plaudits for aesthetic appeal, but facilities have certainly improved no end and there is quite a unique feel to the place which is always pleasing. Redhill were always renowned locally for producing excellent programmes. Unfortunately their standards appear to have dipped, although on this occasion it may have been due to the Christmas deadlines. It consisted of ten pages inside an advertising shell and was a double issue for this and Redhill's New Year's Eve fixtures and covered the basics and there are certainly worse programmes produced at this level.

Both of tonight's teams have had solid if unspectacular seasons so far. Redhill were in seventh place but with up to three games in hand on most teams above them. Lingfield were three places lower and two points worse off, having played a game more. Redhill have had two excellent results most recently, winning 6-1 at bottom of the table Chichester last time out, and comprehensively beating high-flying Lancing at home the week before. Things have not been so good for Lingfield recently, losing their last two games and suffering an 1-8 humiliation at Selsey in the RUR Cup. The two sides have already met this season at Kiln Brow in the Surrey Senior Cup, with Lingfield victorious by three goals to one. A surprise inclusion in the Lingfield team was Nicky Forster, the former Reading, Brighton, Brentford and Charlton striker, and current manager of Dover Athletic. It must be very rare indeed that a manager plays for another team.

A quarter of an hour ahead of kick off, the lights went out, although happily power was restored after about five minutes and the game went ahead on time. The first half was rather uneventful - competitive, but with neither side creating any real chances until four minutes before the interval when Lingfield had a shot cleared off the line.

The scoreline was goalless at half time, and it was one of those games where a nil-nil appeared to be written all over the game. However, six minutes into the second half and the deadlock was broken, albeit with a scruffy goal in keeping with the game. Forster drove towards the goalkeeper before crossing the ball in the air along the six yard line, and Lee Flavin bundled the ball in with his chest according to the officlals after the referee consulted with his linesman, but there was a strong suspicion of handball which the Redhill players protested vigorously for. The rest of the game continued in the same vein of being competitive but with precious few goalscoring opportunitoes, and in the closing minutes, Lingfield looked the more likely scorers, but one goal was all they needed for the three points which sees them leapfrog over Redhill and into eighth place.

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