Wednesday, 30 December 2015

Seaford Town 1 v 1 Saltdean United

Monday 28th December 2015
The Crouch, Seaford
Southern Combination League Division One
Admission including Programme: £5.00
Attendance: 60
Match Rating: 2

For my second game today, I drove half an hour eastwards from my morning game at Upper Beeding to take in a game in the division above, with this one of only two games not kicking off at 11am, instead starting at 2pm. Although The Crouch is a ground I have visited twice previously, my last visit during daylight hours was some nine years ago, and I recall this being a very pleasant place to watch football - even if the fare on the field promised to be not quite so enticing.

The Crouch is situated about a five minute walk eastwards from Seaford town centre, and one has the choice of paying to enter the ground behind one of the goals, alongside the clubhouse, or by strolling in for free via a separate unmanned entrance to the recreation ground area. Many, if not the majority, seemed to choose the latter option. In front of the clubhouse there is covered decking, and to the side there is a tea bar offering hot food. Hard standing is available around the entire pitch, and there is an attractive all-seater stand straddling the half way line, and from here one can see Seaford Head rising in the distance, making an attractive background. The perimeter to the recreation ground is set back some way from the football pitch, giving a pleasantly spacious feel to the arena, and a stone wall around some of the perimeter also adds to the ground's appeal. The 32 page programme was heavily loaded with advertising, but was provided free of charge to those who chose to pay an admission fee. Only 8 pages were of interest and not advertising, although the content still covered the basics well.

This match pitched together the bottom two teams in the division. Seaford are second bottom, with three wins and one draw from their 18 league games, but this represents a massive improvement from last season, when they earned just one point all season to finish bottom by 16 points, and 27 points behind third bottom Saltdean. Saltdean were the bottom team coming into this game, with just one point and three draws from their 18 league games so far this season. So, today clearly represented a great, realistic opportunity to claim three points to attempt to climb the table. These two teams met in the Division One Cup back in October, with Saltdean progressing following a penalty shoot-out.

Unfortunately the bright sunshine I enjoyed at Upper Beeding had given way to overcast skies here. Seaford had the better of the first half, looking much the likelier to score, and they thought they had done on 10 minutes when the ball was poked in from a low cross but the goal was ruled out for offside. The closest Saltdean came to scoring was on 21 minutes when a Seaford sliced the ball goalwards, but his own keeper involuntarily blocked the ball.

Into the second half and the game continued in the same vein, Seaford still looking the better team but Saltdean looked capable of scoring, which they did on 73 minutes. A free kick was played into the box and after a couple of shots were blocked, David Pugh drilled the ball into the roof of the net. Three minutes later though, Seaford were awarded a penalty when the Saltdean keeper tripped the forward running onto the ball, and Oliver Jones confidently fired the ball into the top right corner. Both sides had chances to claim a much needed three points, and their best chances came within a minutes of each other on 78 minutes. First, Seaford saw a header flash just wide of goal, and then Saltdean saw a powerful shot hit the crossbar. But in the end, both teams had to settle for a point which probably pleased neither, from a fixture that represented their best chance to claim a rare 3 point haul.

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