Sunday, 19 October 2014

The JC Tackleway 5 v 3 Crowhurst

Saturday 18th November 2014
Hastings FA Junior Cup Round One
Barley Lane, Hastings
Admission: None
Programme: None
Attendance: 30
Match Rating: 4

After my original plans to head to the outskirts of Eastbourne to visit Willingdon Athletic was thwarted when the visitors could not raise a side, and with a visit to Hastings Bonfire Night planned for this evening, I decided to take in another dose of junior football, by chance watching Crowhurst for the second Saturday running, albeit this time they were the away team.

Located on the eastern fringes of Hastings, the pleasant walk from Hastings rail station took just over half an hour, via the town centre, along the seafront, through the Old Town and up onto the East Hill and Hastings Country Park, from where one has lovely views overlooking the seafront and sea. On arrival at the ground, I found a predictably very basic ground, but one that was actually a very pleasant surprise, with a large grass (although mainly overgrown) bank along one length, which was a good vantage point to watch the game from, whilst a footpath behind one of the goals also offered an elevated view of the action, and from which one can see the sea and Beachy Head in the distance, a very attractive backdrop. Behind the other length, and on the other side of a small valley, are lots of houses, which actually makes for quite an interesting backdrop. Behind the remaining goal, towards one corner, there is a building housing the changing rooms. Built primarily to withstand vandalism, it does have a club badge above its entrance. All in all, its a very basic ground that has a rustic charm about it, with some interesting backdrops, although it would be a bleak, windswept place indeed on a winter's day.

Both of the teams contesting this Hastings FA Junior Cup tie play in the East Sussex League Division Two, The Junior Club Tackleway, to give the club its full name, looked certain to be promoted from this division last season, but spectacularly lost form in the final weeks of the season. They are currently in third place, having won three and drawn one of their five games, but lost last week away at leaders Old Hastonians. After Crowhurst's defeat at home to Eastbourne Rangers last Saturday, the league table probably gives Crowhurst a false position. They are in seventh place, but have lost all three of their league games so far (as well as a cup game), and although they were awarded three points when Punnetts Town failed to field a team, Punnetts Town's results will presumably be expunged shortly. No doubt it has been a disappointing start to the season for Crowhurst, who have signed a lot of players and off the pitch, seem to be far more organised and "professional" than virtually every other club in the East Sussex League.

On a surprisingly very warm day for October, with temperatures nudging 20c, JC Tackleway took an early lead with just five minutes on the clock. A ball was dinked into the box, was misjudged by a defender, and Toby Shaw headed the ball over the keeper and into the net. Crowhurst were soon given the chance of levelling the scores, when they were awarded a soft-looking penalty on 9 minutes. Karl Tomlin struck the an unstoppable shot into the top right hand corner. The home side retook the lead on 19 minutes. A ball was played in from the left and was then hooked over the keeper, before being stabbed into the opposite corner of the net. They certainly looked the better team throughout the first half, forcing a fine point-blank one handed save from the keeper from a header following a corner, and on 37 minutes they extended their lead to 3-1 on 37 minutes. The ball was played low upfield, springing the high offside trap and allowing Charlie Cornford to run through on goal, and he showed great composure to fire the ball into the roof of the net on the run. Crowhurst were given a great chance to reduce the deficit to one three minutes before half time when they were awarded another penalty for a push, again it looked rather soft, but this time the low struck penalty came back off the post.

So, JC Tackleway held a two goal lead at half time, which was probably a fair reflection of the first half. Crowhurst had another great chance to pull a goal back within a minute of the start of the second half, when a free kick took a deflection off the wall and the keeper pulled off a good save to tip the ball wide. On 55 minutes, a third penalty of the game was awarded to JC Tackleway for a foul. After a long break, which included the linesman (a Crowhurst official) being replaced, the ball was struck low into the bottom left corner of the net. That surely put the game beyond doubt, but on the hour mark, Crowhurst pulled a goal back, following some neat passing in the area, the eventual shot took a slight deflection off the keeper before finding its way into the net. On 70 minutes, it was suddenly very much game on when Crowhurst pulled another goal back. The home keeper punted the ball forward from a wide position, only for the ball to fall at the feet of Gary Croft, who struck the ball firmly from almost the half way line, and the ball rolled gently into the unguarded net. Crowhurst really seized the initiative now and looked likely to complete a remarkable comeback to take this tie into extra time, but those hopes were extinguished five minutes from time. Glasses wearing Cornford, who always looked a threat throughout the game, showed some great footwork in the penalty area, eventually fired low inside the keeper's near post. Crowhurst still showed plenty of endeavour, but the game was up and it was the JC Tackleway who progressed into the net round. The right result overall, although Crowhurst will certainly look back and think with a little more luck, they could have at least forced extra time.

No comments: