Tuesday, 14 April 2015

Hollington United 2 v 1 Iden

Monday 13th April 2015
Priory Lane, Eastbourne
Birchwood Group Challenge Cup Final
Admission including Programme: £3.00
Attendance: 100 (estimate)
Match Rating: 4

Having decided to watch most cup finals involving East Sussex League clubs this season, this one would be the biggest occasion, being open to clubs in the top division of the league, and with the game being hosted at a Conference stadium, at the home of Eastbourne Borough.

There was certainly a clear favourite to win this evening. Hollington United are always one of the strongest (in every sense of the word) teams in the East Sussex League, and were defending the cup this evening, having won last year's competition. Coming into this game, they are guaranteed a runners-up spot, with 38 points and 12 wins from their 15 league games. Iden were in sixth place in the ten team division, with 19 points from 16 games, having lost nine of those. When the two finalists met in the league this season, Hollington won 5-2 at home and 0-2 away, although Iden were victorious 3-1 in the Hastings Intermediate Cup Quarter Final - and indeed, Iden have made it to the final of that competition. To reach this evening's final, Hollington defeated Robertsbridge United 7-0 at home, Sedlescombe Rangers 6-1 at home and Rock-a-Nore 1-3 away in the semi-final, while Iden defeated Peche Hill Select 3-1 at home, league champions elect St Leonards Social 1-2 away, before beating Battle Baptists 4-2 at home after extra time.

On a gloriously warm and sunny evening, the first goal actually came before the game was even scheduled to kick off, Hollington taking the lead with just two minutes on the clock, with a good finish on the turn from 12 yards by Shane Ryan which just rolled past the keeper's dive. Iden responded really well, creating several really good goalscoring chances, before they did get back on level terms on 16 minutes when the ball was poked home by Francis Walker following a free kick. The equaliser seemed to wake Hollington up, who really should have retaken the lead - on 20 minutes, after the keeper came to the left hand edge of his area to meet a long ball forward, the Hollington striker lobbed him but the ball bounced on the top of the crossbar, on 25 minutes, they saw a header from a corner headed off the line, and a powerful shot the just outside of the area forced an unorthodox save by the keeper with his legs. But it was all to play for as the half time whistle blew, with the score locked at 1-1.

Into the second half, and the game became an ever more bruising affair which the referee struggled to control, not helping himself with some really strange and inconsistent decisions, as two footed out of control lunges only drew a yellow card, as did some very minor pushing offences. Hollington went back into the lead on 76 minutes, when some excellent quick passing inside the box resulted in the ball being slotted past the keeper by Alan Foster. Although Iden kept battling away, it was always Hollington who looked more likely to score, although deep in injury time, Iden saw a powerful free kick heading for the top corner saved at full stretch by the keeper. But it was disappointment for the loud contingent of Iden supporters as Hollington deservedly held on to lift the cup shortly after the final whistle. This was an entertaining event, with plenty of commitment and passion on show, with the result in doubt right up to the final whistle.


Anonymous said...

Love the reports, especially the East Sussex League stuff. Any chance of you covering the Robertsbridge Cup Final between Mountfield and Hawkhurst?

sussexhopper said...

Thanks, yes I am planning to see that game...just as long I get out of work on time and traffic behaves itself...