Tag Archives: southern combination

At the match: Eastbourne Town v Broadbridge Heath

Not your usual Southern Combination crowd – (C) Jon Smalldon 2017, All rights reserved

Henry Blofeld once described The Saffrons as being the quintessential English venue.  He was in Eastbourne for the cricket, as indeed Sussex will be later this summer, but, today, whilst there was cricket (and bowls) to see at the Saffrons the noise, colour and crowd were here for the final day of the Southern Combination season.

To the sound of almost constant drumming and the sight of flags and the occasional flare, two sides with only pride to play for did a pretty good job of creating a match worth giving a damn about.  Eastbourne took the lead with a neat lob before being pegged back by an absolute scorcher of a shot early in the second half.  After a fair bit of nip and tuck a smart header from a corner sealed the deal.  Although some of the tackles had a feel of a pre-season friendly (obviously no one wants to be damaged heading into the holiday season), overall it was a pretty enjoyable game.  My younger was pleased with his burger and only occasionally complained about how long 45 minutes takes to pass so all was definitely good.

And whilst Blowers quintessential Englishness probably didn’t include ‘Still Hate Thatcher’ t-shirts I like to think there’s something defiantly and wonderfully welcomingly English about the knowing and knowledgeable inclusive passion that sport, even this far down the pyramid, can generate.

Some photos here.

At the match: Westfield v Alfold

This was the sixth goal. - (C) Jon Smalldon 2016, All rights reserved
This was the sixth goal. – (C) Jon Smalldon 2016, All rights reserved

“That’s football, innit?”
“Yes, that’s football.”

Such was the conversation when, after having had chance after chance after chance, Westfield found themselves still in a goalless encounter and with Alfold about to take a penalty.  There was fifty minutes of the game gone.  The penalty was well struck, the visitors went a goal up and for a few minutes, with Westfield unsettled, it seemed that the gods of fate were going to chuckle their way to full time. But then the hosts scored a goal and then they scored another … and by the end of the match it was Westfied 6 Alfold 1.  That’s football, as they say.

If football was won on possession and chances this would have been stopped at half time.  Saying Alfold were leading a charmed life would be unfair.  They defended well and their ‘keeper made some superb stops.  But they had few chances of their own despite some decent probing runs, particularly from their tireless #7.  6-1 may not be an easy pill to swallow but it’s hard, on the balance of play, to say it wasn’t a fair result.

As ever, it was a pleasant visit to Westfield.  Around feeding my younger son the world’s biggest hot dog I found some time to take some blurry photos.  They are here.

At the match: Little Common v Bexhill United

Bexhill United in blue visit Little Common – (C) Jon Smalldon 2016, All rights reserved

Overnight Storm Katie left a trail of fallen trees, torn off roofs and damage ranging from the “first world problem” level to the genuinely worrying.  Katie was still howling as these two local rivals ran out with the memory of their last meeting when five red cards were brandished still fresh.  Drama was therefore promised and whilst, with the wind lashing in a straight line from behind one goal towards the other, it did not quite match the set-up this was still a game with hard tackles, good goals and not a little skill.  I enjoyed myself.

The visitors had the lead at half time.  With the wind at their backs they had most of the early possession and got the ball over the line midway through the half before being called for offside. By the time they scored though it felt slightly against the run of play as by then Little Common had asserted dominance where it counted.  A pattern that continued into the second half although it was very late on – and with Bexhill down to ten men – before the home side pulled away to a deserved victory.  3-1 might have slightly flattered them but only slightly.

There was a decent enough crowd, the majority taking shelter from the breeze in the only covered area behind the goal nearest the clubhouse.  As a result of today Little Common now sit 9 points ahead of Bexhill in the table – and with two games in hand could turn the dominance gained from doing the double over their neighbours into a sound beating in the league table.  But I was warned, starkly, by a fellow spectator that with the fixture pile up caused by so many winter waterlogged pitches that they may fade a bit after today.  After all, it’s local bragging rights you want and having got those Little Common may well ease off a bit.

I took the camera along (and got a ‘thank you’ for taking photos of Bexhill Ladies last week, which was nice) and when it wasn’t being blown about got some photos which can be seen here 

 

At the match: Bexhill United v Southwick

This man is moments away from conceding five goals – (C) Jon Smalldon 2016, All rights reserved.

Six goals.  Five to the visitors.  And yet at half time, with Southwick just leading 1-0 and a being warmed by a welcome Bovril, it was possible to think that, if anything, Bexhill had had the better chances.  Indeed when, on eighty minutes. the home side pulled one back to make it 4-1 the woman along from me speculated that there was still time for a come back.  She wasn’t joking and it did seem plausible.  There really can’t have been too many games where too sides felt so closely matched that have ended up with such lopsided scorelines.

The opening goal, coming in the first few minutes, was a 1927 FA Cup Final special.  A weak shot skidded under the ‘keeper and in.  Oh dear.  Aside from that, on a heavy pitch, neither side created much but there was effort aplenty.  It seemed we were destined for a low-scoring tight one.  That continued well into the second half but on the hour it became 2-0, then 3-0, then, by 75 minutes, 4-0.  It finished 5-1.  Someone may one day be able to explain how.

It was fun though, as long as you’re not living or dying by the result obviously.  Despite the heavy going both sides moved the football well and there was a fair few thudding tackles of the kind we like at this level of non league.  There should have been a sending off but the ref chose only to show a yellow because some part of the two feet that had taken out the opposing player had managed to brush the ball.  They’d have winced like mad on Match of the Day about that.  Everyone was shaking hands at the end.

As is my want, I took some photies.  They show Bexhill in uncharacteristic sky blue.  What they don’t show, because I managed to always be in the wrong place, is any of the good stuff from today.  But, should you so desire, they can be found here.