Sunday, 30 April 2017

Battle Baptists 2 v 1 Hollington United

Tuesday 25th April 2017
East Sussex League Cup Final
The Saffron’s, Eastbourne
Admission including Programme: £3.00
Attendance: 120 (estimate)
Match Rating: 3

One not so good aspect of a generally extremely mild and dry winter has been the lack of a silly season of midweek early evening kick-off in intermediate and junior football this April, meaning that this cup final match may well prove to be my only taste of intermediate football this season.

The Saffrons, home of Southern Combination League Premier Division outfit Eastbourne Town, is a ground I have visited many times previously, although this would be my first this season. No changes were in evidence and so it remains an attractive venue with adequate facilities. The programme was basic t reasonable, 8 pages containing the league table, competition history, introduction to both teams, routes to the final and predicted line-ups.

This cup final was contracted by the best two teams in the league this season, with Hollington United already assured on the title having completed their fixtures, having won 19 and drawn one of their 22 league games, whilst Battle Baptists are comfortably assured of the runners-up spot, having won 15 and lost the other four games played, with three games left to play. This is the first of two cup finals for the Baptists, with a National Christian Cup Final to look forward to at Charlton Athletic's home stadium The Valley next month. In the league games between the two sides, Hollington won 4-1 at home in November, whilst Battle won their home game in January.

On a very chilly evening for April, a pattern soon emerged, somewhat predictably, of Battle Baptists looking to play good, passing football, whilst Hollington a more streetwise approach. Battle took the lead with 13 minutes on the clock when Dean Boyd crossed the ball and Tom Saunders headed the ball over the keeper and into corner of the net. They quite comfortably held on to their lead to half time, and might even have added to their lead, as Hollington looked surprisingly flat for the most part.

Hollington certainly showed more intent after the break, although they were hardly banging on Battle’s door as Battle's midfield and defence showed good organisation. And on 65 minutes, they scored a crucial second goal, a fabulous solo goal by Bulgarian Yordan Yordanov, showing good footwork to dance past a couple of defenders in the penalty area before slotting the ball low past the keeper. However four minutes later and Hollington pulled a goal back. After a great tackle in the box, a couple of Battle defenders just couldn’t deal with the ball deep inside their own area, allowing Sam White to poke the ball home. Hollington did come close a couple of times to equalising soon after, but Battle rode the mini storm and then saw out the remaining minutes quite comfortably, to lift their first ever trophy shortly after the final whistle. And well deserved it was too, playing the better football on the night whilst Hollington never really got going and became increasingly frustrated, for the most part taking it out on the officials and their opponents.

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