Wednesday, 2 September 2015

Cowfold 6 v 2 Hurstpierpoint

Monday 31st August 2015
Cowfold Playing Field, Cowfold
Southern Combination League Division Two
Admission: None
Programme: Free
Attendance: 55
Match Rating: 3

For my August Bank Holiday action, I decided to start off by visiting another of the new entrants to the Southern Combination League this season.

The Cowfold Playing Field is situated close to the centre of the village, next to the A272, but at least 7 miles from the nearest train station in Horsham. The football pitch is roped off and surrounded by trees on three sides, with the rest of the playing field complex stretching from the remaining length back to the main road, and the clubhouse is positioned slightly away from the football pitch offering a tea bar, line-ups board and the changing rooms. Between the clubhouse and a corner of the pitch is a small brick wall, installed in memory of a former Cowfold FC secretary. It's a typically pleasant, basic country village recreation ground setting at this level. Programmes were available free of charge, with 8 pages of basic information, but any programme is always very much appreciated at this level.

Since their promotion from the West Sussex League, Cowfold have had a great start to life in the Southern Combination, beating local rivals Billngshurst 2-1 on the opening day, before dispatching Ifield Galaxy 6-0, both games at home. Having demerged from Burgess Hill Albion after just one season, Hurstpierpoint had a nightmare start to their season, losing 0-8 away to Roffey in their first game, but drew 1-1 at AFC Roffey in their second on Saturday.

On a thoroughly miserable morning weatherwise, with persistent rain falling from dark grey skies but with the pitch remaining in excellent condition throughout apart from obviously being quite slippery, a minute's silence was observed before kickoff in memory of the Shoreham Airshow tragedy and the two Worthing United players who lost their lives because of it. Within a minute of kick-off, Cowfold had taken the lead, when Kyle Mitchell-Harris headed the ball home from a corner. They doubled their lead on 15 minutes when Rhyse Nash smashed the ball high inside the near post. Somewhat against the run of play, Hurstpierpoint pulled a goal back on 24 minutes when Flynn Collins slotted the ball low past the keeper. Cowfold restored their two goal lead on 40 minutes when Ryan Taylor got on the end of a curling cross into the box and headed the ball into the net with the keeper beaten to the ball.

Although Cowfold looked fairly comfortable with their two goal lead, and had a goal ruled out for offside, it wasn't until the 70th minute when the game turned definitively in favour of the home side. The visitors were reduced to ten men when Stephen Halliday was sent off as last man for bringing down Nash as he ran through on goal, and punishment was doubled when Dan Dalton drilled the ball into the top left corner from the resultant free kick. Daniel Powell gave the visitors faint hope of a comeback when the home keeper couldn't quite gather the ball from a curling free kick and Powell bundled the ball home, but that hope was extinguished once and for all seven minutes from time, when Brad Boughton deflected the ball into the net. Greg Brabon added a sixth for the home side two minutes from time when he poked the ball low past the keeper, to seal a convincing win for the home team. The final scoreline slightly flattered the home side, who were certainly helped by Hurstpierpoint not being able to field a specialist goalkeeper today.

Despite the horrible weather conditions, this was an enjoyable way to start my bank holiday football, in a pleasant setting with a friendly feel to the place, as well as an entertaining game with plenty of goals.

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