Tuesday, 8 December 2015

Catsfield 2 v 3 Wadhurst United

Saturday 5th December 2015
Catsfield Playing Field, Catsfield
Sussex Junior Cup Third Round
Admission and Programme: None
Attendance: 5 (head count)
Match Rating: 3

Needing to stay local this afternoon ahead of travelling to a birthday party in the evening, and with all senior clubs in 1066 country playing away from home today, I decided to make a rare visit to the home of an East Sussex League club - at least, rare outside of the groundhopping "silly season".

The Catsfield Playing Field is located close to the centre of the village, between Battle and Ninfield, with the nearest train station three miles away in Battle. The walk from Battle is pleasant, following the course of the 1066 Country Walk through the East Sussex countryside. One enters the playing field behind one of the goals, with a brick clubhouse to the left and a playground to the right. A hedge lines one length and the cricket field the other length, with trees around the border.. Behind the far goal there is a slight incline of fields. It's a pleasantly rural setting, one that would be infinitely more pleasant on a sunny afternoon than on a cold, dank winter's day like today.

Today would be a clash between two struggling teams in the East Sussex League, Catsfield are bottom of the third tier of the league, Division Two, having won one and drawn one of their eight league games so far. Former Sussex County League club Wadhurst United, who I last saw lift the Hastings FA Junior Cup in April, are second bottom in the division above Catsfield, in Division One, with one win and five defeats from their six league games. To reach this stage, Catsfield beat tbeat West Sussex League Division 2 South outfit Beaumont Park 5-0 at home, whilst Wadhurst received a walkover after West Sussex League Division Four South outfit Stedham United Reserves failed to field a team.

On a very overcast afternoon and with a strong wind that would certainly affect the game, the match started evenly, and Catsfield had the first real chance when a firm far post header from a corner went just wide. Wadhurst took the lead on 24 minutes though when, following a throw in, an outstretched foot by James Mitchell guided the ball past the keeper and into the far bottom corner. Both teams had good chances to score during the remainder of the half, but the visitors held the slender lead at half time, but Catsfield were still very much in the game.

Five minutes into the second half and Wadhurst doubled their lead. The ball was played across the penalty area before being driven low across the keeper and into the net by Dean Tincombe. Catsfield continued to battle hard and continued creating some good chances, before they pulled a goal back on 62 minutes. It was very much wind assisted, as a long punt downfield swirled beyond the defenders, and the striker Anthony Luke lifted the ball over the keeper and into the net. Very much game on at that stage, but Wadhurst restored their two goal lead just two minutes later. A cross into the box caused confusion amongst the Catsfield defenders and the ball was poked home by captain John Penny. Still Catsfield battled game fully, and after the Wadhurst keeper pulled off some more more good saves, Catsfield scored again, again a ball forward swirled in the wind, allowing Luke through on goal and he firmly placed the ball into the net for his second of the match. Wadhurst held on for the remaining minutes though, and they will have a home tie with West Sussex League Division Two South outfit East Dean in the last 16. Wadhurst just about deserved the victory today, as they looked to have a little more guile about them, but Catsfield put in a really good battling performance and could easily have taken the tie to extra time with a little more luck.

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