Tuesday night was festive football at last! After a couple of days of family commitments and passing up on Worthing’s delicious win at Bognor during the afternoon Steyning Town was the destination in the evening as they hosted East Preston.
I had my eye on this one just before the home side announced entry would be free, a very generous gesture which I hope added a few more onto the usual crowd figure. It had gained the attention of a few mates, Gareth Spinks and Pete Clarke on their second game of the day after the Rebels win, AFC Uckfield coach Craig Scott and the groundhopping chap that is Justin Holmes.
Having previously watched Steyning earlier in the season against the outstanding Littlehampton who were ruthless in a 6-0 win, they were up against an EP side who are struggling once again this season to get some momentum in results.
With it being the holiday period and expected player availability issues neither side were able to field a full complement of substitutes, but the starting eleven’s began at a frantic pace.
The opening goal arrived on 15 minutes and one worth waiting for, the home side won a free kick around two or three yards outside the penalty area which Scott Murphy curled superbly around the wall and past Dan Stevens to give Steyning the lead.
EP were relying on the pace of Shane Brazil to harass and hurry the Steyning backline, but the front man and his striking partner Harry Russell were marshalled pretty well throughout the first half.
The visitors levelled up the game just before the half hour mark when Brazil netted from the penalty spot, a clear foul on an East Preston man and no complaints from the home side.
Steyning looked the more likely to take the lead once again but a combination of not quite creating clear cut chances nor able to fully test Stevens saw the sides level at the half time interval.
The second half for the home side was a case of almost but not quite, with EP playing a high defensive line for most of the time Steyning were probing for balls just over the top while the visitors were aiming to get the ball out wide for the pushed on full backs and while there was a great battle throughout the half between Mayckol Sabino and Joel Parsons the latter couldn’t get any real quality into the Steyning box to trouble JJ Banasco-Zaragoza.
Both sides struggled to keep possession and use it to fashion some chances, the game turning a little scrappy on two or three occasions in the second half, with attacks breaking down on a constant basis.
No doubt the home side created the better opportunities as the half wore on and should indeed have won it in the final ten minutes but with shots blazing over the bar Stevens wasn’t tested enough in the EP goal for either side to deserve any less than a point.
The result moves the visitors off the bottom of the table having played a game more than AFC Varndeanians who replace them whilst Steyning are now three games unbeaten but remain in 15th spot having played more games than most around them.
Both sides are next in action on Bank Holiday Monday as Steyning travel to Pagham for an 11am kick off whilst East Preston host title chasing local rivals Littlehampton Town at 3pm.