Wednesday, 25 February 2015

Eastbourne Town 2 v 3 Horsham YMCA

Tuesday 24th February 2015
Sussex County League Division One
The Saffrons, Eastbourne
Admission: £6.00
Programme: £1.50
Attendance: 108
Match Rating: 3

After being put off evening fixtures for the past couple of months due to wet and / or icy cold conditions, this evening I took in my first taste of non Charlton midweek evening fixture of 2015 with my second visit of the season to The Saffrons, for an attractive looking fixture, with the home side pushing for an immediate return to the Isthmian League.

Eastbourne Town came into this game in fourth place in the table, with 55 points from 25 games, and although they trail Dorking Wanderers by six points, they have two games in hand. So far, they have won 17 and lost just four of their league games. They came into this game in great form, winning their last three games 3-1 at home to Lancing, 1-5 at St Francis Rangers and most recently 1-7 at bottom of the table Selsey. Horsham YMCA were in seventh place, with 40 points from their 26 games, and so appear destined for a comfortable mid-table finish. They have won 12 but lost ten of their league games. Their most recent form has also been impressive, winning 0-4 at Crawley Down Gatwick and then 7-0 at home to Selsey. Tonight would be the first league meeting between the two clubs this season, although Horsham YMCA triumphed when they met in the Sussex Senior Cup 2-0 in November.

On a cold but dry evening, this game got off to a surprising and explosive start, with the visitors taking the lead inside the first minute. Following some good quick passing down the right, Sam Schaaf eventually strode inside the area before firing a low shot across the keeper and into the far corner. They made it two on ten minutes, when the ball was intercepted in midfield and Josh Brown ran forward before striking the ball past the keeper. Eastbourne thought they had soon equalised on 14 minutes when, following a jinking run into the box and eventual shot which was tipped onto the bar, the rebound was turned in but the lineswoman flagged for offside. Although the effort and commitment was there in Eastbourne's players, there was precious little quality, and Horsham YMCA seemed to out the game out of sight on 38 minutes, when Anthony Hibbert struck the ball from the outer edge of the area after the keeper came out but lost the race to the ball.

So, Eastbourne really had a mountain to climb in the second half of a game they really needed to win to keep up their title challenge, and within a minute of the restart, they gave themselves a sniff, when Daniel Smith ran onto a low thoughball before placing hit shot just inside the post. Four minutes later and it was very much game on when the home side were awarded a penalty for a foul push. Ross Sutton struck the ball firmly down the middle to make it 2-3. Surprisingly, Eastbourne didn't really kick on from there, as they rarely looked likely to grab a third goal, nothing seeming to come off for them, probably partly due to Horsham being well organised and slowing the game down at every opportunity. Eastbourne's biggest chance to snatch a point came three minutes from time, when their plater strode forward and placed a low shot which beat the keeper but rolled just wide of the post. But in the end, Horsham deserved their victory as Eastbourne put in a very disappointing display, which makes next Tuesday's home game with Littlehampton - who won 5-1 this evening - crucial if they are to stay in the running of claiming the title.

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