Thursday, 7 August 2014

Sidley United 3 v 0 Eastbourne Town Reserves

Wednesday 6th August 2014
Pre-season Friendly
Mill Lane, Hooe
Admission and Programme: None
Attendance: 38 (head count)
Match Rating: 4

A rare pre-season midweek excursion took me to a recreation ground in deepest East Sussex. It promised to be an interesting and significant match, being the first game played by former Sussex County League outfit Sidley United following a one year break from football.  I actually watched Sidley’s last competitive match in May 2013, when they defeated Westfield to lift the Hastings Senior Cup.

The club’s former home ground in Sidley, The Gullivers Sports Ground, now lays abandoned and increasingly vandalised after its former owners, the Sidley Sports and Social Club, ceased trading, and so from this season onwards are sharing the recreation ground in the small village of Hooe, about four miles west of Sidley. It’s a ground I visited last season, and is a thoroughly pleasant rural venue to watch football at on a sunny day/evening.

This season, Sidley United will be playing junior level football, in the East Sussex League Division One, and so four divisions below the Sussex County League Division One where they finished the 2012/13 season. Eastbourne Town Reserves play in the Sussex County League Reserve Premier Division and finished last season in third place. An interesting aspect to this evening’s game was that Eastbourne Town’s current first team management team of John Lambert, Jamie Podmore and Peter Heritage were at Sidley during their last season, and this evening Heritage could be heard almost constantly shouting from the touchline this evening.
On a beautiful, sunny evening, after a fairly even opening to the match, it was Sidley United who went into the lead with six minutes on the clock. A free kick close to the left touchline was floated towards the back post, and was headed back across the keeper and into the net. Throughout the rest of the half, both sides carved out good opportunities to score, but the scoreline remained 1-0 to Sidley at half time.

Into the second half and Sidley assumed the ascendancy, deservedly going in front on 54 minutes. An initial shot on goal was blocked, and when the ball was drilled across goal from wide, the ball was forced home from a couple of yards. From this point on, there was only one winner as Eastbourne barely posed a threat in the second half, and indeed Sidley scored a deserved third on 86 minutes, when a free kick from a central position about 25 yards out was drilled into the roof of the net.

This proved to be a most enjoyable game to watch, with plenty of commitment and energy on display, and did not have the feel of a friendly match at all. It was also a very encouraging comeback for Sidley United, who looked creative in midfield, a threat in attack, whilst their defence generally looked quite solid as well. A successful season surely beckons at the level they will play this season, on their long journey back to senior football.

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