Wednesday, 15 April 2015

Herstmonceux 5 v 2 Old Hastonians

Wednesday 15th April 2015
Lime Cross, Herstmonceux
East Sussex League Division Two
Admission and Programme: Nil
Attendance: 12 (head count)
Match Rating: 4

My first game of this year's silly season saw me head to watch a game in the third tier of the East Sussex League, to a rural village ground that had been on my radar to visit for some time - indeed, I attempted to take in a game here back in January, only to find the game had been moved to a 3G pitch in Eastbourne. To be fair, that was probably something of a blessing in disguise - Lime Cross proving a much nicer place to enjoy a football match in the warm early evening sunshine than it surely would have been on a damp, cold winter's day.

Lime Cross is about a five minute walk eastwards from Herstmonceux village centre, just off the main A271 road, and a large club welcome sign is postioned at the entrance of the ground. The pitch is naturally enclosed by a low hedge all around, with pleasant views of the countryside behind three sides of the ground, with one of the nearby Observatory's turrets just about visible. There are large brick built dugouts, but there is no clubhouse or other building present here - players have to change at the recreation ground a couple of minutes walk over the hill from the football pitch. All in all, it's a lovely setting for a game in fair weather conditions, in a peaceful location amidst attractive quintessentially English countryside.

Coming into this game, Old Hastonians, who I had watched very luckily lose in the Division One/Two League Cup Final a couple of weeks ago, still had a chance of claiming a runners-up spot and a promotion berth, in second place with 29 points from 14 games, but that is out of their hands, being only four points ahead of JC Tackleway, who had two games in hand. Herstmonceux realistically do not have too much left to play for this season, in sixth place with 24 points from 13 games although mathematically they could still claim the runners-up spot. When the two teams met last month, the game finished 1-1.

On a warm, sunny evening, following the warmest day of the year so far with temperatures above 20C, the game certainly had a lightening and surprising start, when Herstmonceux took the lead within the first two minutes. The ball was played down the middle through the defence and Ricky Roberts slotted the ball past the keeper. It was slightly controversial, as there wasn't a linesman in place at the time. The home side doubled their advantage on 10 minutes, when the keeper couldn't get a meaningful punch on the ball from a long throw-in, and the ball dropped to the feet of Thomas Budd, who tapped the ball into an empty net. Old Hastonians pulled a goal back on 26 minutes with a very avoidable goal from the home side's point of view. A long high ball was played forward, and the defender seemed to have plenty of time to deal with the ball, but at the last moment inexplicably pulled away, allowing William Cullen to nip in to slot the ball past the keeper. The visitors almost went into the half time break on level terms, when the keeper pulled off a great reflex save from a close range deflected shot.

So, on paper at least, a slightly surprising scoreline at half-time, but no doubt that Herstmonceux deserved their lead, which they increased three minutes after the break, the ball was played through the defence and Alex Spiers poked the ball home. They almost scored a fourth on 52 minutes, when a powerful strike from the edge of the area heading for the top right hand corner forced a good save from the keeper. However, within a minute they were awarded a penalty, and the ball was struck to the bottom left hand corner of the net with the keeper diving the other way. However, the referee ruled the goal out, spotting a player encroaching and ordered a retake. Alastair Thompson stepped up to strike the ball just inside the left hand post despite the keeper this time going the right way, to give the hosts a seemingly unassailable 4-1 lead. They had a couple of chances to extend their lead yet further, but on 72 minutes, Old Hastonians were themselves awarded what seemed a very soft looking penalty, which was converted down the middle by David Pugh to give the visitors a sniff of a remarkable comeback. And suddenly, for the first time in the game, there was a feeling that the game wasn't yet up for Old Hastonians, who now had the impetus, and throughout the game, Herstmonceux did appear to be a little vulnerable defensively. However, with five minutes remaining, Herstmonceux put the game to bed with a terrific shot, Ronnie Platt thumping the ball into the top right hand corner of the net from 25 yards, and the keeper never moved. Herstmonceux saw the game out comfortably to move up to fifth place in the table, and they need two points from their last two games to move ahead of Crowhurst, who have completed their fixtures. The result was a huge setback for Old Hastonians, with fourth placed JC Tackleway now needing just four points from their last three games to overhaul them.


David Lee said...

Thanks for report cannot wait for your next visit.

David Bauckham said...

Shame I didn't see spot you as I really enjoy your blog and looking at your pics. Mine are now online at

Please introduce yourself next time our paths cross.


PS. Email me at

jimmy siggins said...

Thank you for the report and the pictures hope you enjoy the game and hope to see you again soon Herstmonceux 1st. Team gaffer

sussexhopper said...

Thanks guys, was a pleasure to report on a game and venue with everything good about this level of football :)