Monday, 7 October 2013

Billingshurst 6 v 2 Hurstpierpoint

Saturday 5th October 2013
Sussex League Division Three
Jubilee Playing Fields, Billingshurst
Admission: Nil
Programme: £2.00
Attendance: 27
Match Rating: 4

At the conclusion of my match at Oakwood, I caught the train at Three Bridges for a half hour journey south-westwards for a game that in itself was not particularly attractive, but would represent the penultimate tick for me in the Sussex League, with just Sidlesham then left to visit.

The Jubilee Playing Fields is located about a 20 minute walk north west from Billingshurst train station and is an extremely neat and tidy facility, with a lovely rural feel to it. As one enters the complex, there is car park with the clubhouse beyond and the main football pitch to the left. Beyond the main football pitch and clubhouse is a cricket field, with other football fields uphill beyond trees in the distance. The whole complex has footpaths around and across it, with various outdoor fitness aids also provided. Back to the main pitch and the other length opposite the car park and clubhouse is lined with trees and behind the goal opposite to the cricket field are smaller trees and reed bushes. Wooden railings increase the attractiveness of the venue, and one can elect to stand on the footpath surrounding three sides of the ground, although the paths are set some way back from the railings - the grass between is very long having not been mowed. In all honesty, the programme was woeful even considering the level of the club, being as it was basically a local business directory. Although the cover was colourful with today's information on, the inside cover providing the club history is outdated, there is just a short chairman's message which was completely uninformative, and team squads. No sign of recent results, future fixtures or league table for example - the other 15 pages of the 20 page programme were purely advertising. It would surely be a lot more reasonable to charge a small admission to everyone, then a fairer price for the programme.

Neither of today's teams has had a particularly good start to their seasons. Hurstpierpoint have won one and drawn one of their five games so far and are eighth in the eleven team division, whilst Billingshurst have won one and lost the other three of their four games so far and are in tenth place.

With a rather muggy feel to the afternoon, the game had something of a false dawn, as Hurstpierpoint dominated the opening quarter of an hour, however it was thehome side who took the lead on 14 minutes when a cross was dinked from just left of the goal and the ball was headed back over the keeper and into the net by Nathan Stepney. They doubled their lead five minutes later when a long low ball was played forward and Chris Osborne placed ball to the left of the keeper and into the net. On 33 minutes, the home side made it three. A free kick was played to the back post, the ball was headed across goal and was hit into the roof of the net from close range by Osborne for his second of the game. Unsurprisingly Billingshurst were completely dominant by now, and they retained their three goal lead as half time arrived.

It felt that the game was as good as over at half time - all the more so on 56 minutes when they scored their fourth when the ball was tapped in from close range by Darren Annis following a low cross across the goal. On 61 minutes, Hurstpierpoint scored a consolation with a well taken free-kick by Ed Bartram that the keeper couldn't keep out despite getting a hand to it. They pulled another goal back on 74 minutes when Trevor Wilson just beat the keeper to head the ball goalwards and into the net despite hitting a defender on the line. All of a sudden a remarkable comeback seemed a possibility although on 76 minutes, a superb diagonal ball was threaded through the defence creating a one-on-one opportunity, and although the ball was lifted over the keeper, it was cleared by a defender close to the line. The match was put to bed on 82 minutes when another low diagonal ball throughthe defence found Annis, who slid the ball low past the keeper. On 85 minutes Billingshurst secured a convincing victory with their sixth goal with probably the best goal of the game. Annis controlled the ball wide of the penalty area and curled the ball over the keeper and into the net for his hat-trick.

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