Thursday, 7 March 2013

Broadbridge Heath 2 v 0 Crowborough Athletic

Wednesday 6th March 2013
Sussex RUR Cup Semi Final
East Court, East Grinstead
Admission: £5.00
Programme: £1.00
Attendance: 150 (estimate)
Match Rating: 3

Two midweek games in two nights for me was assured when my other local senior football club, Crowborough Athletic, would be playing in a cup semi-final this evening at East Grinstead. Not that making it just over the border into West Sussex would be a straightforward affair, having spent the day at London ExCel and with an early kick off for this match at 7.15 due to local floodlight restrictions.

East Court is a ground that I have visited on many occasions in the past, most recently on Boxing Day last season, since when no improvements have been made. It's certainly a ground ready for stepping up into the Isthmian League, even if East Grinstead never come to close to achieving promotion on the pitch. The 32 page programme was a surprisingly good publication produced by the Sussex FA, with a very professional cover and layout inside and all the information one would need regarding the background to tonight's game, even if it was a little heavy on adverts.

Crowborough would be red-hot favourites to reach the final of this competition, currently in 13th place in Division One of the Sussex County League and their opponents, Broadbridge Heath playing in Division Two, having been promoted from intermediate football last season despite not actually finishing in a promotion place in the league. They are doing well in their division though, up in fifth place. Broadbridge should have been underestimated at their peril though, having won all three previous ties in this competition away from home, including a 0-5 drubbing of Division One Hailsham Town in their opening game in the competition, followed by wins at Division Two clubs Bexhill United and Eastbourne United. The draws have certainly been kinder to Crowborough, having thumped one of the Division One whipping boys AFC Uckfield 6-2 at home, before beating Division Two clubs Storrington 2-5 away and then Newhaven 2-1 at home. Both of tonight's teams would no doubt be delighted to have been drawn to play each other, leaving two of the strongest teams in Division One, East Preston and Peacehaven, to squabble over a final place in the other semi final. To make tonight's assignment even tougher for Broadbridge Heath, nine first team players were unavailable for this game.

If all the signs posted towards a comfortable passage for Crowborough to the final, tonight's game was quite remarkable, as right from the kick off, Broadbridge Heath were in the ascendancy as they played good measured football whilst Crowborough were all too willing to give away possession - admittedly abetted by constant good pressure from the Broadbridge Heath players. On 20 minutes, Broadbridge Heath took a deserved lead when an excellent run was made from deep by Jamal Sultan to beat the offiside trap before passing the ball low into the penalty area and Dean Robinson scuffed a shot into the corner of the net. This did not spur Crowborough into life as Broadbridge Heath looked in control of proceedings and always the more likely of the two teams to score again.

The second half started quite evenly, perhaps with Crowborough slightly shading it, but on 53 minutes Broadbridge Heath scored a second when Grant Miller strode forward before unleashing a drive from 25 yards which went beyond the keeper's dive and into the corner of the net. Even with around 40 minutes left to play and with the team 2-0 up in a division below, that looked like game over, so desperately poor had Crowborough been so far. They certainly improved after the second goal as much of the play for the remainder of the game was in Broadbridge Heath's half. Although Crowborough had a shot tipped over the bar and saw a shot come off the post, Crowborough still looked a yard off the pace. Broadbridge Heath also broke away for a couple of very good chances themselves, but two goals was enough for them and it is they who move forward to the final.

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