Sunday, 28 April 2013

Eastbourne United 3 v 1 Loxwood

Saturday 27th April 2013
Sussex County League Division Two
The Oval, Eastbourne
Attendance: 85
Match Rating: 3

At the conclusion of my earlier game at Polegate, which had a 2pm kick off, allowing me to take in the second half somewhere else in the vicinity, I made the 15 minute drive to the east side of Eastbourne close to the seafront, to revisit a ground I last visited for an evening match over six years ago.

Since my last visit, The Oval has had a complete facelift, so that its name, The Oval, no longer seems particularly appropriate. Then, the ground was rather ramshackle, with the remains of a disused cinder track around the pitch and a large stand set some way back. Both of these features have now disappeared, with the ground now having excellent facilities for the level the club is at, but at the cost that it is now almost completely devoid of any character. The pitch is closely lined with wooden fencing behind hard standing and railing, whilst along the length where one enters the ground are two Atcost stands, one all-seater and one for standing, whilst behind these are a tea bar and a bar.

Before this game, Eastbourne United still had plenty to play for in their penultimate game of the season, in third place in the division and in the last promotion position, but only one place above fourth placed Little Common, who have a game in hand, and a top two place is out of reach, being eight points adrift but with only two games remaining. Loxwood have nothing left to play for, in eighth place. When the two teams met in September, Loxwood won 4-2.

Arriving here at half time, the scoreline was 1-1, Lewis Scally giving Loxwood the lead on 10 minutes before Jamie Bunn equalised on 43 minutes. The second half was delayed by Loxwood’s striker, Tom Lyons, inadvertently being locked in the changing rooms, and then the contest was rather even, perhaps Loxwood looked the more likely to go back into the lead. On 61 minutes it was Eastbourne United who went into the lead for the first time, when a long ball into the box resulted in the initial header on goal being saved by the keeper, but the follow-up shot was tucked away by Liam Baitup. The momentum then very much swung in Eastbourne United’s favour, and they deservedly opened up a two goal lead on 77 minutes, when patient football around the box resulted in a cross into the box from the right, and Baitup headed in from close range for his second of the game. The sun gave way to rain towards the end of the game, as Eastbourne United coasted to a fairly comfortable victory in the end, to stay ahead of Little Common, who also won today, in the race for third place.

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