The final game for me of a busy seven days took me to Newhaven on the way home from Langney Wanderers, the first time ever being able to catch two games in one day.
I’d only ever been to the Trafalgar Road ground once before, a painful 10-0 Sussex RUR Cup defeat with just 11 fit players in my time as Wick FC Secretary, not one of the finest moments. The visitors on Saturday afternoon were Southern Counties East League side Corinthian, seven days earlier on the end of last season’s FA Vase semi-final defeat to Hebburn Town.
Both sides were in the top five of their respective divisions when things halted and neither had the chance to get promotion to the Isthmian League and you would expect these two clubs to be in the mix again this season.
On a bright sunny afternoon after witnessing a 1-1 draw and penalties to decide Langney’s fate against Harrow Borough, I expected a tough, close, battling game and possibly a similar result between these two sides. And it almost turned out to be that way.
Haven, missing regular keeper Jake Buss, started the quicker of the two sides although didn’t manage to create a clear-cut chance to worry the visiting keeper. Corinthian however then started to get a foothold in the game but it took until right on half time to get the opening goal, Jack Billings a name synonymous with the Kent outfit heading home from a few yards out to alter the team talk I suspect for both managers.
Whilst there were a few crunching committed tackles in the first half, it cranked up a notch in the second half and threatened a couple of times to boil over, referee Ffion Eade did her best to try and keep the cards in her pocket.
As per the first half Haven had some very decent spells of possession and you felt they had to make one count sooner rather than later and they did when Henry Watson rose highest to head home a corner with around 20 minutes left to play.
The feistiness continued throughout the remainder of the game with the Corinthian bench spoken to although no further action taken. The Kent side took the game to the hosts once again after the equaliser and looked the more likely to score and indeed they did, substitute Frankie Morgan arriving at the far post unmarked to steer the ball past Dane Tasker with just four minutes plus stoppage time left on the watch.
That goal did break the Haven resistance and with so little time left they failed to trouble Corinthian keeper Aiden Prall and the Kent side left with a place in Monday’s First Qualifying Round draw and some more prize money in the bank.
Two quite different games watched, and both clubs had done everything to keep guidelines in place, Langney of course following whats been put in place for the National League South. Social distancing was evident everywhere you looked at Newhaven, totally safe, markings everywhere and as per all the games I’ve been to track and trace and hand sanitising being followed and not even the full 300 people inside the ground.
A bit of a calm down coming in the next seven days, just the two games for me, East Preston vs Alfold on Tuesday evening and a few destinations up for grabs next Saturday afternoon at the moment. Games are safe, there’s more than enough room for 300 in any of these grounds, next time I must remember bring five other people……….