Saturday, 8 November 2014

Westfield 4 v 2 Steyning Town

Saturday 8th September 2014
Sussex County League Division Two
Parish Field, Westfield
Admission including Programme: £3.00
Attendance: 61
Match Rating: 4

This was another game chosen at the very last minute, having originally set out from home head for a game in the East Sussex League Division One, at Bexhill AAC. However, on arriving about half an hour before kick off at Buxton Drive, it became immediately apparent that the recent heavy rain had taken its toll on the pitch, with the goalmouth and corner flag looking very boggy and no-one in sight. And so, after a quick scan of local clubs in action, I headed off eight miles north-eastwards for this game in the Sussex League Division Two.

The Parish Field has seen no alterations or improvements since my last visit in May 2013, and so it remains, for all its rustic and rural charm, woefully inadequate to host senior football, with no floodlights nor seating present, and a cramped and rather uninviting clubhouse housed in portakabins. The club does indeed plan to move to a site close to the present one, where they could install floodlights and suitably develop into a senior football venue, although there is no fixed time for when this will take place, indeed it has been talked about for several years, with little progress evident. The programme produced was extremely poor, with only one page showing possible team line-ups being of any relevance to today's game, although it did have quite an attractive glossy and hardened cover and it would be remiss not to mention that it is included with a very cheap admission fee of £3.00 - with the club seeming to be very laid-back as to whether spectators pay or not anyway.

This game would be between two clubs stuck in mid-table, although with today's visitors, Steyning, four places higher. Westfield went into this game in eleventh place in the fifteen team division, having won two and drawn five of their eleven games, and had not won in the league since mid September, six games ago, although they had a fabulous 1-2 away win at Division One reigning champions East Preston in the RUR Cup, all the more impressive after coming from behind. Steyning had won six and lost five of their eleven games, and they lost their last game at Bexhill United, but won their three previous games.

With heavily overcast skies and a very strong gusty wind - but thankfully with rain staying away - Westfield started this game very much on the front foot, forcing the Steyning into three excellent saves in the first twenty minutes. It was completely against the run of play and with virtually their first shot on goal when Steyning took the lead on 36 minutes. The ball was moved quickly down the left, and the eventual low cross into the box was tucked home from a central position by Chad Milner. The more the first half progressed, the less threatening on goal Westfield became, however it was still harsh on them to find themselves a goal behind at half time.

They put that right within a couple of minutes of the restart though, when Sam Willett tucked the ball home from fairly close range. They almost took the lead three minutes later when a shot from a very tight angle went across the goal line, just evading a couple of forwards as the ball went wide. They did take a deserved lead on 55 minutes though, when Dave Pugh received the ball towards the edge of the area and he hit his shot past the keeper. On 61 minutes, Westfield scored their third, Pugh running onto a lovely ball dinked over the defence, before lobbing the ball over the keeper and into the net. After Westfield saw an effort cleared off the line, Pugh completed his hat-trick on 75 minutes, again getting on the end of a dinked ball over the defence and his shot on goal went into the net despite taking a deflection off a desperate diving attempted block from a defender. Steyning were very much a beaten team by now, but they did pull a goal back two minutes from time, when a long ball forward was controlled by Rob Clark, before he fired a shot across the keeper and into the net. They might even have scored a third in the closing minutes, but there was no doubt Westfield thoroughly deserved the three points from this game.

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