Friday, 24 April 2015

Magham Down 3 v 6 Ticehurst II

Wednesday 22nd April 2015
East Sussex League Division Five
Red Lion Field, Magham Down
Admission and Programme: None
Attendance: 12 (head count)
Match Rating: 4

One of the pleasures of "silly season" for me is visiting grounds that I would probably never remotely consider visiting on a Saturday afternoon. Certainly the Red Lion Field falls into this category, hosting matches in the sixth tier of the East Sussex League. However taking in some football in a peaceful, relaxed countryside setting straight after work is why I always look forward to local football in April.

The Red Lion Field is located in the very small village of Magham Down, with the busy A271 passing straight through the middle. Although the village does not really have any endearing charm to it, the Red Lion Field has a very nice setting. The field is located next to the main road, although the pitch is set some way back, beyond a car park and between two rows of tall trees, which are set further back on one side, where there are a couple of maintenance sheds. Beyond the opposite goal to the main road, one can look out towards the South Downs in the distance.

This match was the last in a season to forget for Magham Down, who are certain to finish bottom by a distance, having picked up just two wins and three draws from their 21 games, conceding 96 goals in the process. Ticehurst II, who I saw lift the League Division Five/Six Cup last month, went into this game in eighth place in the twelve team division, with six wins and three draws from their 17 games, and although they still have four games left to play including this evening's game, sixth is as high as they could realistically expect to finish. The reverse fixture of this evening's game was supposed to have taken place last Wednesday, but Magham Down were unable to raise a team.

On a mainly sunny evening which thankfully was not as chilly as yesterday evening, Ticehurst predictably dominated this game, although Magham Down look a threat when they occasionally managed to mount attacks, albeit one always felt that it was Ticehurst's sloppiness that was giving them a helping hand. Ticehurst took the lead on 3 minutes, when a looping shot from the edge of the area hit the post, the rebound was lashed goalwards but the keeper saved well, only for the ball to eventually be hit low across goal and into the net via the inside of the far post. A minute later, Ticehurst had a header from a corner headed off the line, but they did double their lead on 15 minutes when the ball was lumped high down the middle towards the penalty area, and although the covering defenders and keeper looked favourite to hack the ball away, they left it for each other, but in the end leaving it to the Ticehurst forward to poke the ball home. It looked game over on the half hour when Ticehurst scored their third, when a cross was flicked on towards the back post, and the ball was drilled in on the half volley. Magham Down pulled a goal back on 39 minutes, when an excellent dribble in the area resulted in a tight angle for a shot, but a deflection helped that eventual shot into the net.

A minute into the second half and Magham Down were suddenly right back in the game, when following a run with the ball down the right, the ball was rolled along the six yard box and tapped home. The game had certainly become much more even that it had been for most of the first half, perhaps kicking down the slope helping the home side in the second half, and they almost scored a hitherto improbably equaliser when the Ticehurst keeper smothered a one-on-one shot, and although that presented a fairly easy tap in for the striker's team mate, he skied it over the bar. That was to prove decisive, as Ticehurst extended their lead to two on 62 minutes. Magham Down had swapped their goalkeeper for an outfield player at half time, and the new keeper had a half to forget in goal, this time a hopeless fumble at a corner presenting an easy tap-in at the far post. On 70 minutes, he almost gifted another goal to Ticehurst, when he awkwardly grasped at a shot, with the ball squirming onto the bar. Within a minute, Ticehurst did make it five, with a long range shot from well outside of the area with the keeper out of position. Indeed, Ticehurst had developed a shoot on sight policy by now, sensing the hopelessness of the new goalkeeper. Magham Down scored their third on 73 minutes though, following a run down the right the forward headed to a more central position before firing a shot into the net via a deflection off the keeper. The new Magham Down keeper had his one good moment when he did well to deny a Ticehurst player through on goal, but on 80 minutes, Ticehurst scored their sixth when a corner was headed at the back post into the opposite top corner ,just out of the reach of a defender on the line and the keeper's dive. 3-6 was how it finished, a scoreline that did reflect a game that Ticehurst looked much the better team generally, but sloppiness gave the hosts and unlikely sniff of a point at least. But ultimately, Magham Down paid the price for missing a couple of good chances to equalise and for their charity in allowing an outfield player a half in goal.

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