Sussex Senior Cup First Round
The Crouch, Seaford
Admission including Programme: £5.00
Match Rating: 4
For this week's midweek action, I headed along the south coast to revisit a ground eight years after my last game there, for a cup match that certainly promised goals.
The Crouch is situated about a five minute walk from the town centre, and in truth, one cannot fully appreciate the charm of the ground when visited at night time. The main entrance to the ground is behind one corner, although as this is a recreation ground, there are a couple of other unmanned entrances around the ground where one can walk in without paying the entrance fee, if one is inclined to do so - and indeed, plenty of people did just that, which explains why the number of people actually watching the game was at least double the official attendance. Beside the official entrance is a building housing the changing rooms and clubhouse, with a veranda from which one can pleasantly watch the game from. Apart from hard standing being present all around the pitch, the only other spectator accommodation is a small, modern all-seater stand straddling the half way line, which is actually quite pleasant on the eye, with its green colour blending in quite well with the surroundings. From this stand, during daylight hours, one can see Seaford Head in the distance, providing a scenic backdrop. Being a recreation ground first and foremost, there is plenty of grassed area beyond the pitch, with a stone wall all around providing an attractive border. Photos taken during daylight hours a couple 18 months ago can be found here. There is a noticeable slope from side to side. The programme consists of a 24 page generic glossy shell printed in colour containing mainly advertising but also some club history, with a 12 page black and white insert containing all of the basics such as welcome message, league fixtures and results, and introduction of the visiting team.
This evening's game certainly had the look of an "away-banker". Seaford, who finished seven points adrift at the bottom of the Sussex League Division Two last season and were only reprieved from relegation to intermediate football thanks to ground-grading, are having an even worse season this time around, having lost every competitive game they have played so far - eight league games, and two cup games, as well as failing to find enough willing players for a midweek trip to Division One leaders Littlehampton in a cup game. One would imagine that Little Common, a team renowned for creating plenty of goalscoring chances in games, would fancy their chances this evening. They have had a strange season so far. After a poor August, picking up just one point from their three league games, they had a fabulous September, taking full advantage of every game being at home, winning six of their league and cup games in the month, but then lost their last game in September and first in October, both away from home in cup competitions. Tonight's teams met in the Sussex League Division Two just ten days previously, Little Common winning 3-0.
After a very wet day, the rain thankfully relented ahead of kick off leading to a moonlit sky, but a very strong, blustery wind blowing in from the English Channel remained, which Little Common would kick into during the first half. That didn't stop them taking the lead with less than two minutes on the clock. Steve Morris - hardly quick on his feet himself - latched onto a throughball and outpaced the covering defence as he ran towards goal, before firing the ball into the back of the net despite deflecting off of the keeper. One might have expected a very one-sided game, but that was not how the first half panned out as Seaford, perhaps aided by the wind, held their own and occasionally mounted some good attacks on goal. The closest they came to equalising was on 17 minutes when a header from a swirling cross from the right was parried onto the post, and from the rebound, the eventual shot was blocked. On 23 minutes, it was the visitors' turn to hit the woodwork, Jake Sherwood saw hit shot come back off the underside of the bar. Little Common did score a second two minutes before the break, Martin Denny playing a one-two before passing the ball low into the opposite corner of the net.
Seaford were perhaps slightly unfortunate to be two down at the break, but Little Common would go on to take full advantage of the wind being behind them in the second half. On 47 minutes, a long free kick taken by captain Zac McEniry in his own half was headed into the net by Lewis Hole, whilst on 53 minutes, Denny got on the end of a throughball by Sherwood before slotting the ball low past the keeper. On 57 minutes, the visitors scored their fifth, direct from a corner taken by Morris. Seaford still showed willing and looked like they had a goal in them even at this stage in the game, but it was Little Common who scored the next goal, and their sixth, on 73 minutes, Paul Feakins smashing the ball into the near post top corner of the net, and they completed the scoring with their seventh goal three minutes from time, when Casey Ham tucked the ball home from a narrow angle after his initial shot was well blocked by the keeper. So, a thoroughly convincing win as predicted for Little Common, who could easily have reached double figures having seen plenty of chances fly over the bar, saved or blocked, but this was a more competitive game than the scoreline suggests, Seaford not looking too bad going forward but were far too easily cut open at the back, but credit to them for the way they kept battling away in the second half even when the game was lost, an all too familiar position they are finding themselves in this season.