Thursday, 24 April 2014

Westfield 3 v 0 Bexhill United

Wednesday 23rd April 2014
Hastings & District FA Senior Cup Final
Recreation Ground, Little Common
Admission and programme: £5.00
Attendance: 125 (estimate)
Match Rating: 3

For this week's midweek action, I was tempted away from another silly season cup final by the opportunity to watch a senior cup final. The running of the Hastings Senior Cup this season had been in some doubt, as only two clubs entered this season's competition, and the holder's, Sidley United, are taking a year's sabbatical from the game. However, it was decided that the two entrants would indeed contest the final this evening.

On paper, this looked a match between two very evenly matched teams, separated by one position in the Sussex County League Division One, with Bexhill United four points better off in eighth place, with 42 points from 31 games with one game of the season left to play. They are guaranteed to finish in eighth, and tonight would be the first of two cup finals for Bexhill, who will be contesting the Division Two cup final on Early May Bank Holiday. Westfield have accumulated 38 points from their 31 games. In the two league matches between the two sides, the match in Westfield ended goalless in September, whilst Westfield secured a 0-1 away win in March.

On a cool, drizzly evening, this was the definitive game of two halves. Bexhill were by far the better side in the first half, hitting the woodwork in the first minute and a further two times by the twelfth minute. They had other glorious chances but just couldn't convert them, and they would ending up paying dearly for that. Westfield were very disappointing up to half time, creating a couple of good chances to score but generally struggled to get into the game apart from making numerous rather ugly late challenges, raising tensions which threatened to boil over with the officials seemingly reluctant to take decisive action, even when the Bexhill manager, Kenny McCreadie, screaming a threat to "f***ing break your toes after the match" to a Westfield player from the sidelines.

Into the second half and Westfield were a team transformed. They took the lead on 54 minutes. A good ball was played to Mike Booth to the left outer edge of the penalty area, and he dribbled the ball to a more central position before lashing a right footed shot in off the far post. Four minutes later and they almost doubled their advantage. A low free kick was parried by the keeper, with the ball falling to a Westfield forward, but he could only nudge the ball wide under pressure. They did double their lead on 67 minutes, when a cross from the right was headed into his own net by Steven Earley. Westfield were completely dominant by now, as Bexhill never looked capable of pulling a goal back, struggling to get in Westfield's half and even when they did, their final ball was poor. Deep into added on time at the end of the game, Westfield scored a third with a free-kick from a central position 25 yards out, which was struck low into the bottom right hand corner. So it was Westfield who lifted the cup soon after the final whistle, which they deserved on their second half performance, although the result could have been completely different had Bexhill made their early superiority count.

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