Sunday, 25 January 2015

Hailsham Town 3 v 5 Broadbridge Heath

Saturday 24th January 2015
Sussex County League Division One
The Beaconsfield, Hailsham
Admission: £5.00
Programme: 50p
Attendance: 58
Match Rating: 4

I originally intended to only watch the second half of this game, following a 1.30 kick off cup match at Herstmonceux. However, it soon became apparent that no game was being played at Lime Cross today, and so I continued on to Hailsham to take in the full 90 minutes.

Today would be my third visit to The Beaconsfield, although the first in daylight. There have been no noticeable changes since my most recent visit last season, so it remains a pleasant ground to visit, with a friendly feel to the club, and the ground being lined by trees down one side, a hedge along half of the other, tennis courts behind one of the goals, and nestled well away from roads.

Both clubs are having unremarkable seasons so far. Hailsham went into this game in 16th place in the 20 team division, with 21 points from 20 games, although they are 16 points clear of the bottom two. Broadbridge Heath are in twelfth place, with 29 points from 22 games, in their first season in Division One following promotion as runners-up, and just their second season either at this level. When the two teams met in late September, Broadbridge Heath won 4-1.

On a rare bright and sunny afternoon, but with a bitterly cold breeze, the recent prolonged heavy rain had certainly taken its toll on the pitch. Although looking in great condition at kick off, thanks to the players warming up on the adjacent cricket field, the pitch was extremely heavy and slippery, with players regularly losing their footing. So considerable credit to both teams for producing a highly entertaining game full of attacking intent. It was Hailsham who took the lead on 17 minutes, when some slick passing approaching the area culminated in the ball being laid on in the path of Craig Norman who slotted the ball low across the keeper and into the far corner of the net. Just three minutes later and they were given the chance to double their lead, when they were awarded a penalty after a quick turn in the box drew a foul. Jamie Salvidge drilled the penalty into the right side of the net. At this stage, Hailsham looked in complete control and full of confidence, but Broadbridge Heath pulled a goal back on 29 minutes, Jack Legrande shooting low into the net despite a defender on the line almost getting in the way, after an initial shot was parried into Legrande's path. Four minutes later and the visitors levelled the scores with an excellent goal, Jake Holmes dribbling the ball inside and towards goal before powering a shot high into the net from the edge of the area. It got even better for the visitors on 37 minutes when some static defending in the area allowed Ollie Moore to poke the ball home on the turn.

2-3 was how it remained at the interval, with the game evenly poised. Hailsham had a great chance to get back on level terms within a couple of minutes of the restart, when the keeper failed to gather a low free kick to the near post, but a couple of goal bound efforts in quick succession were blocked. Apart from that, Hailsham struggled to attack, and Broadbridge Heath gave themselves some real daylight on 72 minutes when Mark Bevan placed a low shot beyond the keeper's dive. Six minutes from time and Hailsham gave themselves a glimmer of hope of salvaging a point, when Norman swept the ball home following an initial save by the keeper, and for a while it looked like they might yet claim a point as they produced wave after wave of attacks. But those hopes were extinguished a minute from the end when Moore fired a free kick high into the net down the middle when the keeper, not for the first time today, might have done better. And so a seesaw game ended with three points for the visitors.

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