Town prove too strong for local rivals

Bank Holiday fixtures don’t always happen on the Monday they’re set for, agreement between the two clubs will see some games moved to a Tuesday and in the case of down here on the South Coast Littlehampton and East Preston Wednesday and the chance to squeeze an extra game in to watch.

Most of my games so far have been in the local area and I have seen both these sides on quite a few occasions in the past six weeks and it gives me an opportunity to do a separate piece for the Littlehampton Gazette as well.

Contrasting starts so far for both teams, Littlehampton with only one league defeat so far this season and East Preston yet to win a game in the Southern Combination Premier Division, but derby games bring about a different edge even at this level so it wasn’t going to be a stroll in the park for the home side.

Joint boss of the Golds George Gaskin sat this one out whilst his co-cohort Mitch Hand got some minutes on the pitch ahead of the weekend’s FA Cup tie with Whitehawk, Tom Biggs was also missing from what’s become the regular front four in the home side’s line up.

EP were as close to full strength for Simon Hull as they could be, but they almost found themselves a goal behind inside five minutes, Dion Jarvis unable to find the back of the net.

The visitors were acquitting themselves well to the game, they came with a worked on game plan but it was the hosts clearly creating the chances. Joe Benn’s first sight of goal came on 23 minutes when he finally found some space in the penalty area but dragged his shot wide of Sam Marsden’s goal. Marsden then produced a fine save just after the half hour mark to keep the scores level.

Then came the best effort of the half for EP, Shane Brazil took a ball over the top of the Town defence only to be denied by James Binfield one on one and the scores remained level at 0-0 going into the interval.

That scoreline last just a minute into the second half, Dave Herbert finding himself unmarked in the box when the cross came in and despite a small suspicion of handball, slotted the ball past Marsden for the opening goal.

The goal opened the game up a little as EP needed to come out more and be braver, but Town increased their lead on 55 minutes, a strong run from Lucas Pattenden saw Marsden save his shot but pushed the ball out to the feet of Benn and he made no mistake from six yards out.

Jarvis could have sealed the win after the hour mark, put clean through one on one with Marsden but the keeper saved well and the same again from substitute Scott Packer minutes later.

Brazil had a very good chance to halve the deficit 13 minutes from time but shot wide of Binfield’s goal having created the space for himself in the box whilst Lew Broughton couldn’t quite get on the end of a free kick that would have made things interesting had either effort found the net.

Town did get their third goal one minute from time, a mazy run from Jarvis saw the winger hit the bar with the ball falling kindly in front of Packer one yard out and he duly headed it over the line. There was even time for Jarvis to have a header ruled out for offside a minute later as the Golds moved up to second in the table.

The scoreline looks a little harsh on EP given their competitive nature throughout the game and they set out to make it hard for the hosts to control the game which for periods certainly worked.

Despite not fielding either Gaskin or Biggs, Town had more than enough to win the game in front of a good sized crowd once again and attention now turns to the FA Cup 1st Qualifying Round on Sunday (ko 3pm) against higher division and fellow Sussex side Whitehawk, another good crowd is expected in excess of the 220 last Wednesday, momentum is building nicely for the Golds.

Rustington hold off Town fightback

Bank Holiday Monday meant a choice of games to go and watch, do I head to The Hive for game I didn’t expect Barnet to win and with a hefty admission fee or watch a double header of games locally instead? As it was Barnet decided not to put tickets for online sale available until Thursday last week, too late for me so decided on the double header.

The first took me to Worthing Town at Step 7, not to be confused with the Step 3 Worthing nor the Step 6 Worthing Utd! Town were hosting Rustington having lost their opening three games whilst the visitors had won their opening two matches.

Rustington are managed by someone I know very well, Jon Tucker, and two of his backroom team in Scott Farrell and Ash Finch are also well known to me. His squad also contains a few players I’ve come across over the years in Kieron Howard, Dan Swain, Dan Cox, Matt Noble and Josh Irish, all featuring bar Howard out with a back injury.

On paper this was down as an away win and a comfortable one at that, those mentioned above have mostly played Step 5 and 6 throughout their careers but as we are well aware it’s played on grass and not paper meaning it’s not always as clear cut as should be.

Both sides were keen to play with the ball on the floor with the odd one played into the channel for willing runners, Town to their credit played out from the back nicely but fell down in the final third, whilst the visitors did the same with more success but struggled to hit the target.

Rustington eventually took the lead on 22 minutes, a well worked free kick slid in Swain and he marked his debut with the opening goal. Beyond that Rustington appeared to be trying too hard to score and overplaying in areas when taking a chance to hit the target was more often than not the better option, Chris Darwin though did smash the ball against the crossbar just four minutes later.

The Town keeper was doing his bit to prevent the visitors from adding to the scoreline and with his defence clearing a couple of efforts off the line, at the other end Billy Nash saved well with his legs just after the half hour mark to ensure Rustington went in at half time a single goal in front and with Tucker no doubt telling his players to keep it simple but be effective.

The second half followed a similar pattern to the first with the ball mostly on the deck, the visitors extended their lead just before the hour, James Butt with an easy tap in to extend the lead.

From that point with Town still unable to create very much up front, there was an expectation for Rustington to go on and run up a decent score, but having begun to sit back a little, it invited Town on to push forward and make a real fist of it.

Seven minutes after the visitors went 2-0 up, the home side pulled one back, no scorer name available that I could find before publishing. They then hit the bar just a minute later as Rustington appeared rocked and in danger of throwing away the three points.

Both sides traded chances and you felt another goal for Rustington would seal the win, Krzysztof Paraficz with a free header in stoppage time provided just that and the final whistle blown immediately after the referee has consulted with the club linesman over a possible offside.

Good little crowd of around 60-70 watching on and Tucker will be pleased they got the job done, with Swain and Noble just controlling that midfield was hard for Town to get through and trouble Nash too many times. Impressed with Finn Aldridge who I believe was starting his first game, the youngster tiring in the second half but one not afraid to run at his man.

Speaking to Tucker after the game, he felt they worked hard but it could have been easier:

‘I think you’re right with the overplaying in the first half, we did make it more difficult for ourselves. Two games in three days meant a few tired legs and with a couple of injuries as well I’m pleased to get the three points and we move onto Saturday.’

One game down and next up the South Coast El Classicoast, Worthing vs Bognor to come in blog number two.

Oak edge out struggling Wick

It’s not often you get Friday night football in Sussex but Bank Holiday weekend means an extra round of fixtures and with it the opportunity to take in Mile Oak vs Wick in the Southern Combination League Division One and also to catch up with a couple of good mates, Justin Holmes and Mark Hayward.

Mile Oak have always been a bit of a bogey team for Wick, the same when I was involved at Crabtree Park and before as well. Oak were searching for their first points of the season after four successive defeats while Tuesday night’s win for Wick over Selsey was their first since the opening day of the season.

Both sides were very cagey in the final third, possibly due to the lack of confidence with neither in a great run of form, despite keeping possession when they had the ball but unable to fashion any clear cut chances.

The first goal arrived just before the half hour mark and it went to the home side, Zac Haulkham scoring from the penalty spot after the referee took a little while to point to the spot.

The lead lasted all of two minutes as Conor Bull made himself a yard of space inside the box, shot across the hosts Aaron Stenning and into the far corner for a quick equaliser, the first effort for Wick on target.

Despite no full on assault on each other’s goal, the home side were back in the lead five minutes before half time, Jack Stenning’s drilled shot kept low and past Wickers keeper Keelan Belcher.

Once again though Wick were quickly back on level terms, a mix up in footwork and communication between Stenning and one of his defenders presented the ball to Bull inside the area and a simple tap to give him and the visitors their second goal of the game to send the sides in at half time at 2-2.

No sooner had the steam just about evaporated from the half time cuppa Mile Oak were in front for a third time. Four minutes into the second half Harry Furnell broke clear from the Wick defence and smashed the ball past Belcher, with the keeper injuring himself trying to keep the ball out.

After a spell of treatment Belcher was up to carry on, but hobbling and unable to kick the ball further than a few yards. It got worse for Wick just a few minutes later when Ross Smith drilled the ball home from 20 yards out, Belcher a mere spectator as the ball whistled past him to give the home side a two goal cushion.

Just after the hour mark, a mix up once again between Stenning and his back four, presented Ben Grey with the chance to lob the ball home and reduce the deficit to 4-3 and some hope once again for the visitors.

As it was despite using their three substitutions Wick couldn’t find a way through to grab another equaliser and although Oak finished with ten men after Haulkham was sent off for a second yellow card they kept their composure for the final couple of minutes to seal their first win of the season and condemn Wick to their fourth defeat in just six league games.

A very young Oak team in places stood up well to the more experienced visitors line up, very impressed with Furnell for Mile Oak, took his goal well and won a lot of flick-on headers which gave his team mates chances to test Belcher.

Bull stood out for Wick, not just with the two goals but his all round play made it look as if something would happen at times, but not enough Wickers added enough to the game which if they had would probably sent the three points home with them.

Based on the last few years, seven games is about the maximum you can lose if you want to be involved in the promotion race, not too many more can Wick allow to slip through their grasp if they want to get themselves out of this division at the top end, whilst this win might just kick off Oak’s season, some more answers will come on Bank Holiday Monday.

Rampant Littlehampton in dominant display

Tuesday night saw a trip to Steyning Town to watch them take on Littlehampton Town, the home side unbeaten after the first three games whilst their visitors were a point worse off at the start of play.

Littlehampton were without star striker Joe Benn who had contributed nine league and cup goals so far, but a very able replacement in George Gaskin moving further up the pitch complimented by Lucas Pattenden and Dion Jarvis either side.

It was Gaskin who opened the scoring after 11 minutes, Pattenden providing the cross after a period of intense pressing from the visitors which became the pattern of the game from the Golds.

Just a minute later, the same combination provided the second Littlehampton goal, the home defence unable to deal with Pattenden’s direct running and cross into the box, Gaskin unmarked to head home once again.

When you thought it couldn’t get any worse for the home side, a poor defensive clearance went straight to Tom Biggs and with patience to side step challenges and fashion an opportunity, the visitors had their third goal in three minutes, the home side shell-shocked.

The press continued from the Golds and Steyning were unable to take any time on the ball to make headway towards the visitors goal. Another poor clearance from a home defender went straight to the feet of Pattenden who skipped past his defender, shot across the keeper and into the net for 4-0.

It wasn’t too long to wait for the fifth goal to arrive, Liam Humphries unmarked at a corner headed home inside the six yard box with just under ten minutes left to play before half time.

With the interval looming, Jarvis bundled in a remarkable sixth goal on 40 minutes, again another cross from the right hand side where Pattenden had been so influential and capped a superb if unexpected half for Littlehampton.

The second half not surprisingly didn’t live up to its predecessor and in all honesty for the Golds it didn’t need to. There were chances to extend the lead further at times, Gaskin close to a hat-trick, Biggs dancing his way through more than once but unable to hit the net.

The hosts did have chances themselves but failed to properly test James Binfield in the visitors goal and a comfortable win was wrapped up without needing to push hard in the second half.

This was the third time in five league and cup matches that the Golds had hit six goals, all away from home and if Sittingbourne were watching ahead of the weekend’s FA Cup tie then they certainly went away with something to think about, Bourne themselves having dispatched Lancing last weekend 4-0 in their opening league match.

For the hosts a first league defeat of the season and it was overheard the home side were missing quite a few first team regulars but I’m sure their supporters certainly weren’t expecting to be turned over so easily.

Steyning also face an FA Cup tie this weekend as they host Sutton Common Rovers, a chance to put league matters to one side and grab some much needed winners money, they will however need to not be so generous defensively and if their opponents were watching they certainly would have come away with a game plan to make it a potentially uncomfortable weekend for the hosts.

Utd aiming to upset the status quo




A lot of towns and cities across the country host two teams, in some cases more, and at all levels of the game, the question here in this piece is can the town of Littlehampton in West Sussex be able to do the same?

Littlehampton Utd, born from a move of a club from the nearby village of Clymping, are one such club aiming to make their presence known and challenge the hierarchy within the Arun area.

Unable to progress as a club within the village due to a lack of floodlights and local residents against the idea, the club moved out and pitched up at The Sportsfield, home of Littlehampton Town.

They duly renamed the club in 2018 and benefitted from a beautiful playing surface along with floodlights and also a bar for players and supporters to use before and after the game.

But with the club wanting to expand itself and the capacity to host their new Under 23 side along with the various age groups that Town had to offer, Utd moved out over the summer and headed down the road to groundshare with East Preston FC at The Lashmar, a ground that will host two first teams and two Under 23 teams at the very least.

Had they tried to host both their senior teams at different venues then an increase in costs would have been seen and with clubs, nearly all clubs, managing to survive the last 16 months on very little football and very little income, cheap has to come into the reckoning.

As the Sportsfield is shared with the cricket club and with Town needing to maximise their availability there was little room for Utd to play home pre-season friendlies which again saw the need for somewhere new to play.

Under the chairmanship of David Chace, he appointed former East Preston man Chris Horner to run the first team for the 2021/22 season in which they are aiming to finish in the top four and be in the promotion mix to Division One, a progression they can now make with floodlights.

There is a long term aim to return to Littlehampton when the time is right and if they can find the area or land which would accommodate them and whilst away from the town the opportunity is there to build stronger foundations ready for the time to move on.

Currently they are putting in plans to improve the matchday experience for supporters and have recently recruited a PA announcer to give it that little extra edge, there are plans to bring more sponsors on board and to introduce a matchday raffle, small things in some cases but also vital to get things going.

With so many clubs within a five mile radius around the town of Littlehampton you have to put yourself out there a little bit more to attract players and make your club stand out, especially if you aren’t paying players to get out there on a Saturday afternoon.

That to me appears to be the only stumbling block, the amount of teams that are drawing on the same players Utd will want to attract to the club otherwise given what happens around the country there is no reason under the right leadership and progress there can be two senior Littlehampton teams, watch this space!

Pagham open account for the season

There was a little bit of a choice for games on Tuesday evening although some were a little hard to find than others. One criticism of the Southern Combination website is trying to find when cup games are being played, if it’s FA Cup or FA Vase it doesn’t seem a problem and with not every club prolific on social media, I’m sure there are a few fans lost, vital revenue for this season.

In the end there were about four or five choices and I plumped for the reversed fixture of Pagham and Broadbridge Heath, Heath’s home ground suffering a few issues with the travelling community.

The Lions began the season on Saturday with a 4-0 home defeat to Little Common, a surprising one for me as I tipped Kerry Hardwell’s team to do pretty well again this year given their squad contains a lot of players with experience of what is now the Pitching In Isthmian League.

The visitors meanwhile missed out on opening their campaign on Saturday after a heavy downpour put paid to the game at Hassocks, in contrast to the bright sunshine I was experiencing at Arundel on the opposite side of Sussex.

It was Heath who started the game in strong fashion as the Lions struggled to get onto the ball, and the visitors took the lead in just the fourth minute. Full back Cameron Watts’ delicious through ball sent Charlie Parmiter away through the middle of the Pagham defence and he slotted home past Connor Kelly.

With Pagham trying to play a high line throughout the first half, there were opportunities for Parmiter and Jamie Taylor to try and exploit as the Lions midfield pair of Joe Clarke and Ross Edwards found it hard to match their opposing counterparts.

Heath were only in front for 12 minutes, Pagham growing into the game and finding Callum Chalmers with acres of space on the right wing time after the time the goal was due to come, but from the opposite flank.

With Darren Currie on the phone in one ear, concentrating on the action was a little bit more difficult! Jack Langford was the scorer of the Lions equaliser as the home side grew into the game, Edwards and Clarke now beginning to get the measure of their opponents.

Both Langford and Chalmers were the out ball for the home side, both hugging their respective touchline and willing runners at the Heath backline and six minutes before the break Langford had his and Pagham’s second, a cross into the box from right to left found the winger and he smashed the ball home to put the Lions into a half time lead, although Heath will feel they had enough chances to be level or leading.

The second half was a very entertaining affair, Heath having switched Watts, who was the standout player for the visitors in the first half, into a more central role but didn’t quite deliver as well as he did in the first 45.

Heath certainly nullified the ball out to Chalmers and it was looking more likely that if the Lions were to score again it was going to come from Langford, either by creation or a shot on goal.

But, neither side were able to test each other’s keeper sufficiently and as we entered the final ten minutes when legs were beginning to tire Heath began to crank up the pressure.

Substitute Ben Cooksley had a glorious chance to equalise from a Jamie Taylor flick, but the angle took him wide and shot into the side netting. Moments later Taylor was in front of goal but volleyed wide after a great cross from the left hand side and you sensed it wasn’t going to be the visitors night.

Heath did have the ball in the net in stoppage time but was ruled out for offside and Hardwell’s men held on for their first win of the new season. Both sides now head into FA Cup action this coming weekend, facing fellow Southern Combination Premier Division sides in Littlehampton Town and Steyning Town.

Great to see Langford back out on the pitch with two well taken goals, and as Hardwell stated after Saturday’s defeat the lack of being able to get players on the pitch in pre-season due to the ‘ping’ etc you could see that across the game players needed a breather.

Heath will be wondering how they didn’t get anything from the game considering the amount of chances they created throughout but not enough hit the target and of course that is the difference, but it’s only 1-2 games into a 38 game season for both and plenty more opportunity to get points on the board.

Defeat for Arundel as Midhurst claim opening day points

After pre-season action it was finally time for league action and points on offer as 2021/22 kicked off for me and James Easton at Mill Road Arundel in the Southern Combination League Division One.

Midhurst and Easebourne were the visitors on a glorious sunny afternoon in West Sussex with both sides wanting to get their campaign off to a winning start. A summer of change for the Mullets in Jason Mines coming in to manage the team, assisted by Arundel veteran Richard Towers, both I know well from Wick FC days.

With Mines unavailable for the game, Towers was assisted by Aaron Millar, another known to me from those days at Crabtree Park and with a very young side in the red and white, it was interesting to see how they would fair against a visiting side who were in and around the thick of the promotion race last season before a halt was called.

Both sides were keen to knock the ball around on the slightly long playing surface which did make passing a little difficult if not needing to be very precise. Towers was forced into an early change on 26 mins, Ollie Hawkins replacing a limping James Ayling.

The Mullets thought they had taken the lead a minute later; the impressive Josh Mines shot was tipped onto the post by Josh Bird and then rolled along the goal-line without going over.

Midhurst did have the ball in the net on 35 minutes but the effort was ruled out for offside whilst five minutes later Mines had other shot tipped by Bird, this time onto the crossbar.

Then came the big talking point in the game and one that effectively decided the second half mentality. Hawkins was adjudged to have fouled his man just outside the penalty area and was promptly sent off, protests from the Arundel sideline that the decision was harsh, backed up by some independent spectators view that the foul wasn’t even really worthy of a yellow, the referee actually quite card happy throughout the game with yellow cards flying here there and everywhere.

The free kick came to nothing and the sides went in level at half time, both probably feeling they could have been a goal in front.

A man short saw Arundel look to contain the visitors and some dogged defending at times ensured they made it look as if Midhurst were going to be denied anything more than an opening day point, Chris Wyatt coming closest to breaking the deadlock hitting the post just after the hour mark.

As it was the pressure told just minutes later, substitute Liam Dreckman slotted home after a bit of pinball inside the area, latching onto the loose ball and giving Mullets keeper Jack Hickman no chance.

Marcus Bedford doubled the visitors lead two minutes later with a smart finish inside the area as the extra man was starting to pay dividends for the Stags and the tired legs of the young Arundel side were starting to flag.

Ten minutes from time the seal was put on the visitors second half performance, fellow substitute Kieran Carter tapped in at the far post for a third Midhurst goal after a superbly flighted cross from the left hand side to send the Stags home with the three points.

No doubt the game changed on that sending off decision, both sides were fairly well matched despite a clear pitting of youth against experience in favour of the visitors, but the extra man for the Stags was clearly the difference with Arundel unable to fashion many notable second half chances.

So there we go, number one in the bag for the season and Mr Easton’s first trip to Arundel ticked off the list, fingers crossed I can find a destination for Tuesday or Wednesday evening.

The wait goes on

Saturday football once again! Well live streaming has been fine coupled with FA Cup weekend’s whilst the game was served another suspension, nothing beats waking up on the first day of the weekend knowing you’re off to football.

I had plenty of local choice too, not really deterred by the lack of Step 3 and 4 games and of course those in Step 5 and 6 who are unable to play, with East Preston facing eight away games in a row after this weekend I easily decided on a trip to The Lashmar.

For those of you who read regularly I’ve been following the fortunes of the West Sussex outfit since the start of the season and over the course of the eight away games there will be a couple of updates to find out whats been happening and what’s new.

Now under the tutelage of Lee Thompson and Mike McCaffrey, the side were still searching for their first win of the season with Crawley Down Gatwick the visitors, a midweek defeat to Lancing on the season’s resumption not the start the duo wanted.

What I didn’t expect when I arrived at the ground was to see well-known Barnet FC fans Steve and Ann Percy around two hours from home for them, needless to say there was a lot of Barnet talk but not at the expense of watching the game!

Not surprisingly the pitch was pretty heavy given the amount of rain on the South Coast over the last few days but both sides certainly didn’t shirk from the challenge and the early exchanges were very even, chances at both ends but not enough to break the deadlock.

EP keeper Steve Alfrey was becoming the busier of the two custodians as the half wore on however but little was put either side of him keeping the scoreline blank. Just as we were all set for things being equal at half time the visitors popped up with a goal, striker Lewis Croal with a superb finish just on the half time mark, harsh on the hosts who had done enough for the scores to remain level going into the interval.

What happened at the beginning of the second half baffled quite a few in the ground including me. Alfrey was out early from the changing room and made his way over the to bench to the bemusement of those around us to question if he had been sent off but remaining in full kit.

Having stood close to the changing rooms as the teams walked off, Alfrey had entered into some colourful dialogue with the match officials and only once the second half had begun with Chad Milner in goal and some ten minutes elapsed did we realise he’d been sin-binned for dissent!

The sin-bin certainly hasn’t been enforced enough this season at this level compared to last year hence why I think we all forgot that referees do actually use it still!

Alfrey was back between the sticks when Crawley Down added their second on the hour mark, Guy Halding’s flicked header from a left wing cross unchallenged as it nestled inside the far post.

Just six minutes later Dave Brown made sure the points were leaving with the visitors as he smashed the ball home to put the game beyond the reach for EP. So the wait goes on for East Preston for that elusive first league win of the season and next up a trip to Little Common to try and reverse that statistic.

For the visitors two wins on the bounce keeps them inside the top ten clubs in the Premier Division and looking upwards rather than down, a very composed performance despite losing their keeper injured in the warm-up and Tony Jenner coming in to keep a clean sheet.

Another midweek coming up for more football, although destination unknown at the moment, but if I can be somewhere I will be somewhere……..

Goal fest as football returns again

Football! It’s back, how long for we don’t know with decisions made by those not understanding the non-league game at all but here we are ready to go again and of course you’ve got to make the most of every opportunity.

With the go ahead given last week but not a re-start for everyone, local games to go to where I hadn’t been so far were a little bit in short supply with no Step 3 or 4 action for around at least two weeks more so I settled on Wick vs Arundel despite having seen both in action in the first two months of the season.

I had been hopeful of heading to The Hive to finally get to see Barnet in action and not on a stream, they put paid to that before the weekend with season ticket holders only being admitted. Then they threw a spanner in the works announcing on Monday individual tickets were on sale for Tuesday night’s game.

Can’t say I wasn’t tempted, but with friends not able to make that game I stayed with my local choice and headed to Crabtree Park for the second time this season. The first was the opening Saturday of the season for the Southern Combination when Bexhill Utd recorded what was a comfortable 3-0 win, Arundel I saw go down 3-2 to Oakwood in the Sussex Senior Cup in October at Mill Road.

Both sides sat middle to lower half going into the game and this being the first action for four weeks and being a local derby too, an added couple of extras going into the game and by the time the final whistle went this one certainly didn’t disappoint.

On a fresh, cold December night, both sides were intent on playing football rather than reverting to banging the ball long to skip across the crisp surface, Wick had the better of the opening exchanges and were in front on 14 minutes, Jake Hawker heading home unmarked at the edge of the six yard box to give the home side the lead.

It wasn’t all one way traffic although the home side just had the edge and were awarded a penalty on 36 minutes, striker Dan Simmonds’ effort well saved by Mullets keeper Lewis Broughton, but he couldn’t prevent Connor Bull from firing home the rebound to put Wick 2-0 up.

Arundel brought themselves back into the game superbly just two minutes later, striker Ben Gray operating as a left back curled a free kick into the far top corner giving Wickers keeper Jordan Matthews no chance, a worldie if you like and a way back into the game for the visitors.

The game however turned on the next decision just a few moments later, Mullets John Phillips given a straight red card by referee Mark Spence reducing the visitors to ten men although no change in the scoreline as the game moved into half time, Simmonds hitting the post just before the interval.

Wick certainly made use of the extra man in the second half, Arundel a bit more tentative to push forward given the closeness of the scoreline and it was no surprise the next goal went to the home side.

A ball played in by left back Jack Bingham found Rob Hutchings, dual signed from Pitching In South Eastern side Chichester City, who controlled with one touch and unleashed a fierce shot giving Broughton no chance five minutes into the second half.

Three minutes later and Simmonds added his name to the scoresheet to put Wickers 4-1 up and in complete control with a clinical finish. Gray gave Mullets a glimmer of hope ten minutes later with another sweet strike that flew past Matthews only for Simmonds to pounce for his second just two minutes later after a defensive mix-up allowed him to score, 5-2 to the home side.

The striker then completed his hat-trick in the final 15 minutes, a miscued defensive clearance fell to Simmonds in the penalty area and he made no mistake firing past Broughton and a sixth goal for Wick.

There was time for Shane Brazil to time his run and lob the ball over the on-rushing Matthews into the net for a third consolation goal from 25 yards out, Wickers running out 6-3 winners.

Credit to both sides in what was a very entertaining affair and neither side seemed affected by tiredness or fatigue after four weeks of no games, the scoreline I felt was reflected in the decision of the red card I don’t think we would have had such a goal fest otherwise.

Attention is turned to the weekend now and the decision is between a local game or branching out into the National League, it’s great to be back once again……….

No corner turned yet for East Preston

Tuesday evening saw the last scheduled midweek game for East Preston after a busy couple of months cramming games in a fixture list than began a month behind its usual start date in August.

Like most clubs at this level and I know I’ve mentioned it fairly regularly, but they’ve done well off the pitch to keep people safe at games against a backdrop of diminishing volunteers and a constant battering of regulations to further reduce income that keeps these smaller clubs alive.

On the pitch things haven’t gone quite as expected since the game began again on 1st September. Just one win in all competitions in nearly two months wasn’t the way it was supposed to pan out and this time last week Terry Dodd tendered his resignation to the club committee which was accepted, Terry as we know through this blog doesn’t like losing and maybe just felt there was little he could to change things around despite his best efforts, money talks at all levels of the game.

Step forward Chris Horner! A rapid rise from the Under 23’s to 1st team manager in a few weeks, football does not stand still. As expected and often happens in the County League when a manager leaves, players invariably do as well and this situation is no different.

Despite most playing in the weekend defeat to Longfield, around eight left the club prior to Steyning’s visit to the Lashmar, Guy Church and Tijan Sparks appearing to be the only survivors from the Dodd reign and the side littered with new signings and promotions from the Under 23 squad.

Having seen EP two weeks or so prior to this one, they put up a strong fight in the Vase against Fisher, but capitulated three days later, 4-0 down at half time to Hassocks before rallying back to 4-3 which in a way leaves you unsure which EP makes its onto the pitch.

It did look to be a long night in front of the home side as they dealt with some strong attacking pressure in the opening minutes, the visitors coming close to opening the scoring on eleven minutes the EP defence just managing to clear off the line after pinball in the penalty area.

The hosts were able just to deal with everything the visitors threw at them and a fine save from debutant keeper Adam Brodrick kept the scores level. Steyning though eventually took the lead just before the half hour mark, an unmarked George Cousins on hand to fire past Brodrick, who was unable to hold onto the ball, and give Town a deserved lead that they took into half time.

With the ball just not holding up with the strikers, EP struggled to fashion many clear cut chances despite the midfield promptings of Jamie Frankling and the returning Tijan Sparkes.

The lead was increased for the visitors on 58 minutes, James Magrath’s header from a corner couldn’t be kept out and EP were now having to take a few more risks to try and get back into the game.

The introduction of Matt Storm from the bench provided a few flurries in the visitor’s penalty area and EP indeed should have pulled one back but as so often this season the lack of attacking intent send the home side to another league defeat.

Plenty of work to be done for the new boss and I caught up with him after the game to see what’s planned to try and turn things around:

‘My first objective is to get the goal average down and I guess we did alright with that tonight, that was our lowest defeat for a while, but at the same not clinical enough still in front of goal. I thought Adam did well in goal for his debut and will get sharper with games.’

‘Both of my strikers are deadly in front of goal and once they get into a good rhythm as a partnership I’m hoping things change.’

‘I am actively looking to bring some more experienced bodies in, I have dialogue open with a few clubs, but they have to be the right person both on and off the pitch to take us in the right direction. With no budget it is making things harder, but watch this space……’

Have to mention Dan Howick who had a fantastic game alongside skipper Charlie Robinson at the back for EP, head or foot on everything that came his way, those two could be key along with Sparks and Frankling in front of them plus three or four players with good experience to get the side up the table.