Thursday, 17 April 2014

Northiam 75 0 v 2 Hawkhurst United

Wednesday 16th April 2014
Robertsbridge Junior Cup Semi Final
Recreation Ground, Northiam
Admission and Programme: None
Attendance: 39 (head count)
Match Rating:3

A return to the “silly season” for me this evening, with a trip into rural East Sussex to watch some junior level football at a club whose biggest claim to fame is probably being where Neil Ruddock finished his playing days

The Northiam Recreation Ground is located close to the centre of the village, and an interesting point to note as you enter the gates is a sign indicating that they were erected by the parishioners of Northiam to commemorate the visit of the British, Canadian, South African and South Rhodesian prime ministers in 1944. Once inside the ground, one walks through some a recreational area featuring a playground and outdoor fitness aids, until one reaches the football pitch itself at the far end of the ground. A wooden clubhouse is situated on one side straddling the halfway line, whilst around three sides of the ground are a combination of hedges, trees, and fairly attractive buildings in the distance, giving the ground a very pleasant rural feel to it.

This evening’s match would be an interesting cup semi-final, with the host team a division below the visitors in the East Sussex League. Northiam are in fourth place in Division Three, with a good chance of earning promotion. They have earned 31 points from their 17 games, seven points behind second placed Punnetts Town but with four games in hand. Hawkhurst United are in fifth place in Division Two, with 22 points from 13 games, and although they have games in hand on all of the teams above them, a position in the top two to earn promotion looks beyond them. To reach this stage of the cup, Northiam have beaten Division Four outfit West Hill United of Division Five 2-0 and Wittersham II 6-1, both games at home, whilst Hawkhurst United have beaten Bexhill AAC, of Division One, 3-1 at home and Peasmarsh, of Division Four, 0-4 away.

On a gloriously sunny and warm evening, with a decent crowd assembled, it was Northiam who had the first real chance of the game on three minutes, a powerful shot from close range forcing a very good save from the keeper. Apart from that, Hawkhurst dominated the half, hitting the post on 22 minutes with a header from a curling cross to the back post. A minute later though and the visitors did take the lead, a low through ball beat the offside trap and Daniel Mcgahan kept his cool to take his time before slotting the ball through the keeper and into the net. Hawkhurst had a header from a corner cleared off the line on 39 minutes, and they went into the interval with just a one goal lead when they really should have had a more convincing lead.

After looking extremely limited in all areas of the pitch in the first half, Northiam threatened much more after the break, and on 48 minutes saw a weak shot hit the post and on 60 minutes they had a shot following a corner cleared off the line. However, on 68 minutes, Hawkhurst scored their second to pretty much deal the cup final date. An initial shot was well saved by the keeper and after the ball wasn’t cleared, the ball was eventually fired into the net by Mcgahan for his second of the game. The result never looked in any doubt after this, although Northiam did have a couple of reasonable chances to reduce the arrears, and it was Hawkhurst who advance to the final.

No comments: