Sunday, 12 May 2013

Westfield 0 v 2 Sidley United

Saturday 11th May 2013
Hastings Senior Cup Final
Parish Field, Westfield
Admission by Programme: £5.00
Attendance: 170
Match Rating: 2

With most senior leagues having now completed their seasons, the choice in fixtures is now severely depleted. After most of the week planning to take in a visit to AFC Stoneham in the Hampshire County League, feeling under the weather with a sore throat meant that I wanted to stay local today. Although a trip to the Parish Field would be a revisit for me, the game was attractive enough with silverware at stake, and also it is may also prove that I would watch Sidley United's last ever match as a senior club.

The Parish Field is located adjacent to the A28 road from Hastings to Ashford, just north of Westfield village and about four miles north of Hastings. It's a very basic venue for a senior football, with no floodlights present, and one that would not be accepted back into senior football were they to be relegated. However it's a charming throwback to how County League grounds used to be. The main entrance is in one corner of the ground, one cannot walk behind the goal, and along this length, towards the other corner is the clubhouse and tea bar, now housed in dark green portakabins which are obviously rather cramped inside. These temporary structures replaced the previous clubhouse which was burnt to the ground in 2009 that threatened the club's existence. Strangely, as most spectators line this length, there is no hard standing apart from in front of the clubhouse, where there is also overhang providing cover. Behind the other goal is a narrow gravel path not really suitable for lingering on, whilst the remaining length has hard standing. Trees lining the ground, with rolling hills in the background, give a nice rural feel. Admission todaywas by programme, which was a very basic four page publication contains welcome message, league tables and likely team line-ups.

Today's final had an intriguing look to it, with Westfield at home playing against a team from a division above. Westfield finished their season in the Sussex County League Division Two in excellent form to finish in a comfortable fifth place. Sidley United were in grave danger of relegation from Division One of the Sussex County League, but good end of season form saw them finish sixteenth of the 22 clubs. In the last couple of weeks, Sidley's very existence was suddenly placed in grave danger, when the parent club, the Sidley Sports and Social Club, went bust, and no-one quite knows that the future holds for the football club. Only four clubs entered this competition this year, and in the semi finals, Westfield won 0-3 at Little Common back in March, whilst Sidley won 5-1 against Bexhill United on Tuesday in a match played at Westfield.

On a mainly sunny but blustery afternoon, and on a bobbly pitch that has a slightly slant towards the clubhouse length, the first half was rather scrappy low on entertainment, but both sides had their chances, most notably to Westfield when a header from a free kick glanced the post.

Seven minutes into the second half, it was Sidley who took the lead with a scrappy goal. The ball was pumped long into the box, the Westfield defenders couldn't clear the ball and eventually Kenny Pogue, who had scored a hat-trick in Tuesday's semi-Final win, hit a low first time shot into the goal. Westfield were still very much in the game, until it was effectively killed off on 71 minutes, when Gregg Berry, who had only been introduced as a substitute a few minutes earlier, drove the ball in along the byline from the left, but appeared to have overrun the ball. However the keeper couldn't claim the ball, which spilled away allowing Berry to tap it into three unguarded net. Westfield still battled gamely and had further chances to score but it was not to be and Sidley lifted the cup for the third time in four years, in a ceremony which took place on the pitch after the final whistle.

This would indeed prove to be Sidley's last competitive game before a one year sabbatical, an inevitable move after the loss of their Gullivers home ground and lack of co-operation from Bexhill United to allow Sidley to play there despite the local council approving the move. Hopefully, Sidley United will play again in the East Sussex League during season 2014/15

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