Thursday, 4 September 2014

Sedlescombe Rangers 7 v 1 Crowhurst

Tuesday 2nd September 2014
Pre-season Friendly
Oaklands Park, Sedlescombe
Admission and Programme: N/A
Attendance: 27 (head count)
Match Rating: 3

This match was another bonus midweek game which had little attractive about it apart from being on my way home, although it would allow me to complete the set of visiting current grounds in the East Sussex League Premier Division.

Oaklands Park is located close to the centre of the pretty and peaceful village of Sedlescombe, which is located about seven miles north of Hastings. As one enters the complex from the main road, and after passing the attractive wooden pavilion building housing the changing rooms and then the cricket square, one arrives at the football pitch, behind one of the goals. There are no spectator facilities, although the setting is pleasantly rural and peaceful. Colourful trees closely line one length, whilst along the other is a hedge, beyond which is a slope leading up to trees. Concealed along both lengths are streams, from which football regularly have to be hooked during the game. Behind the remaining goal opposite to the clubhouse one can see countryside far into the distance.

Having watched Crowhurst, of the East Sussex League Division Two, comfortably beat Robertsbridge United last Thursday with a surprisingly solid and attacking display, it would be interesting to see if they could repeat that level of performance against another team in the Premier Division, Sedlescombe Rangers. Sedlescombe were promoted from Division One as Champions last season, and can probably look forward to a comfortable season in mid table in the season ahead.

On a sunny evening, with the game kicking off slightly ahead of schedule, at 6.25pm, it soon became very apparent that there would be no repeat of Crowhurst’s impressive performance against Robertsbridge this evening. In fairness, it did look a very young and inexperienced team this evening. With four minutes on the clock, a Sedlescombe forward saw his header from a cross come back off the bar, but they did take the lead on seven minutes. A diagonal ball into the box evaded the defender, and the striker struck a low shot across the keeper and into the net. Two minutes later and Sedlescombe had a shot come back off the post and the follow-up shot was blocked. Surprisingly, Crowhurst managed to notch an equaliser on 19 minutes. The ball was launched forward, and whilst the Sedlescombe defence appealed for offside, the Crowhurst man found himself beyond them. He took an age to control the ball and advance forward, before hitting a shot into the bottom right hand corner from the edge of the area. On 27 minutes, Sedlescombe retook the lead, when a Sedlescombe player ran from virtually the halfway line, outpacing the covering defender, before smashing the ball past the keeper from close range. Three minutes later and the hosts made it 3-1. The ball was floated in from deep, and a glancing header guided the ball over the keeper and into the net. On 37 minutes, it was 4-1, with a good finish with the outside of the boot from the edge of the area after a good passing move. They almost scored a fifth on 41 minutes, when a cross from the left was met by an outstretched boot, which could only shoot the ball over the crossbar.

The half time scoreline was a fair reflection of the first half, and if anything Crowhurst’s goal slightly flattered them. But they held out for 13 minutes before conceding again, this time a lovely pass was played around the defender, allowing the Sedlescombe player to cross the ball low from the right, and was tapped in from close range at the far post.  On 65 minutes, Sedlescombe scored their sixth, when a good passing move around the box ended with a player running onto the ball and stroking it inside the near post. On 79 minutes, Crowhurst were almost gifted their second, when a Sedlescombe defender was caught in possession, and the striker took a touch before seeing his powerful shot deflected just wide by the keeper. On 88 minutes, Sedlescombe made it 7-1 when a cross from right to left was drilled in across the keeper and into the net. They should have scored an eighth in added on time, but a lovely dribble and passing move into the box ended with a shot screwed wide of goal from a central position. But 7-1 was how it finished, which was a fair reflection on proceedings, and although this was a fairly entertaining game to watch, the gulf between the two teams was great and the flow of the match was not helped with mass rolling substitutions. Sedlescombe will certainly face far tougher games than this in the Premier Division, but their passing game of ball retention, with a solid looking defence, augers well, although despite scoring seven this evening, did not appear particularly creative. One presumes that Crowhurst fielded a weakened, experimental side this evening, and that they will take last Thursday’s performance levels into the Division Two campaign this season.

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