Sunday, 8 September 2013

Hooe Sports 1 v 10 Ninfield United

Saturday 7th September 2013
East Sussex League Premier Division
Hooe Recreation Ground, Hooe
Admission and Programme: Nil
Attendance: 28 (headcount)
Match Rating: 4

After returning home late from Wembley Stadium last night having watched England's 4 -0 win against Moldova, I fancied a rural and peaceful experience today, taking in a local derby at intermediate level in the East Sussex League, with the two villages separated by less than two miles.

The Hooe Recreation Ground is situated just north of Hooe village, which is four miles north west from Bexhill. There are no facilities here apart from a small wooden pavilion building set behind one corner of the pitch housing the changing rooms, and the ground is lined with trees apart from along one length, which has a handful of small trees along it. Whilst the setting is not spectacular, it does have a very tranquil, naturally enclosed and rural feel to the place, a typical village football venue.

When setting off for this game, I did not have a huge amount of optimism that the game would even take place given that Hooe had not managed to field a team since 16th March, forfeiting their last four games of last season and last week's season opener was also postponed having been unable to raise a side yet again. Indeed, it really is a wonder why Hooe were allowed to remain in the Premier Division this season, with no sign of being able to field a competitive side. After a reasonable start to last season, Ninfield finished a distant seventh in the nine team division, and they had a poor start to this season, losing 0-6 at newly promoted Ore Athletic.

On a bright and sunny afternoon, a pattern developed of Ninfield dominating possession without really threatening, whilst Hooe battled gamely but frequently chose the wrong option, were slow to react to situations and gave the ball away too readily. Ninfield hit the woodwork on 21 minutes before they took the lead on 32 minutes when the ball was played across the keeper and into the from six yards out. Six minutes later and Ninfield doubled their lead, when the ball was drilled in at the near post despite the keeper getting fingertips to it.

0-2 was how it remained at half time, a deserved lead for the visitors. Hooe still appeared to be in the game, although it was hard to see where a goal would come from for them. On 49 minutes Ninfield extended their lead to three when a player sprinted to the byline before crossing the ball low across the box and was turned into the top corner of the net. Almost immediately they should have scored a fourth when the ball was blazed over from close range. Ninfield did score their fourth on 59 minutes when the ball was hit over the keeper and into the net from a slight angle. Nine minutes later and it was 0-5. The ball was sprayed to the right and the onrushing player drove towards goal and although his initial shot was parried by the keeper, he got to the loose ball first to poke it home. On 70 minutes Ninfield made it six when a one on one was converted. Unfortunately Hooe really had thrown in the towel by now, making very little effort to close players down or track back, standing by as Ninfield players attacked at will with almost total freedom. Ninfield were awarded a penalty in the 78th minute for a trip, which was converted into the top right corner with the keeper diving the other way. Out of nothing, Hooe did score a consolation with a good goal on 83 minutes, their striker running onto a through ball before driving the ball low across the keeper and into the net. Two minutes later, Ninfield restored their seven goal lead when the ball was played low across the box from the left and was fired home via a deflection. A minute later and Ninfield made it 9-1, their player driving down from the right wing before firing inside the keeper's near post. A minute from time and Ninfield reached double figures with a goal which encaptured perfectly what the game had become. The ball was played short between four Ninfield players around the six yard box, having all the time in the world before the ball was hit home from the centre of the goal. 1-10 was how it finished - and Ninfield did not appear to be that good a team, but took advantage when Hooe just completely gave up. Unfortunately just fulfilling a fixture would seem to be cause for celebration for Hooe these days, and one fears that they could suffer plenty more hidings at least as bad as today's against better teams in the league such as Hollington United.

Note: Sadly, a week later and Hooe Sports lost 0-22 at home to Rock-a-Nore, and then being unable to fulfil their next two fixtures, had to resign from the league.