Thursday, 23 April 2015

Jarvis Brook 4 v 4 East Grinstead United

Tuesday 21st April 2015
Mid Sussex League Premier Division
Limekiln Playing Fields, Jarvis Brook
Admission and Programme: None
Attendance: 23 (head count)
Match Rating: 4

For my second instalment of the 2015 silly season, I had no realistic alternative but to revisit a ground this evening. Although an East Sussex League local derby between Ticehurst and Wadhurst was the most appealing, I would have struggled to get to the Bell Field in time for kick-off, and so headed for the outskirts of Crowborough instead.

The Limekiln Playing Fields complex has not noticeably changed since my last visit nearly four years ago, however this evening's game was not played on the main pitch closest to the clubhouse but on the next pitch down, which is positioned at right angles from the main pitch and almost adjacent, but with a row of tall trees between the two pitches. The backdrop is probably more scenic on this second pitch, with views over the valley to the neighbouring village of Rotherfield, and with trees all around and the ground's peaceful setting all giving a nice relaxed feel to the location. The pitch itself, however, was not so good, with it undulating considerably and it was hard and bobbly for this evening's game.

This was an important game for Jarvis Brook, who occupied one of the two relegation spots, in eleventh place in the twelve team division, with four wins and a draw from their 19 games. They had two games in hand on the teams immediately above (Lindfield) and below them (Cuckfield Town), and so a draw this evening would lift Jarvis Brook out of the relegation zone, and a win would go a long way towards create some real daylight, with Lindfield and Cuckfield Town having just one game left to play.Although this evening's visitors, East Grinstead United, were only two places above Jarvis Brook, in ninth place, they were 12 points better off having played the same number of games, with seven wins and four draws from their 19 games. The reverse fixture took place less than a month ago, with Jarvis Brook winning 2-3.

On a sunny evening, but with a biting wind sweeping across the exposed location making it feel bitterly cold, this proved to be a real see-saw game that was full of endeavour from both sides. The visitors had the first real chance when from a corner, a header was blocked and a follow up shot went over the bar, but it was the hosts who took the lead on 8 minutes. A ball from their own half from wing saw the striker clean through on goal, and he took a good touch before placing the ball low past the advancing keeper. After East Grinstead had a couple of very good chances to equalise, they did on 21 minutes with a lovely curling shot over the keeper from the edge of the area. They then took the lead on the half hour, when a corner was sent into the box, the keeper couldn't claim the ball and it was eventually bundled over the line.

The visitors took a 1-2 lead into the break, which they probably merited on the balance of play. Jarvis Brook got back on level terms on 54 minutes with a simple unmarked header from a corner, but it only took East Grinstead four minutes to go back into the lead when a looping shot from well outside the area sailed over the keeper and into the net. The game looked up for Jarvis Brook on 68 minutes when the visitors opened up a two goal cushion with a very good goal, with the player dribbling the ball all the way from his own half to the penalty area, before slotting the ball past the keeper. Things almost got even worse for the home side when an open goal was missed after an unmarked East Grinstead player at the far post couldn't get a touch on a low cross inside the six yard box. The home side got a real lifeline on 76 minutes though, when an inswinging corner went straight through the keeper's hands at the near post and into the net, and that really gave the home side belief that they could yet get something from this match, as they really started to take the game to the visitors. They got back on level terms 84 minutes with another error by the keeper, who spilled the ball and eventually it was tapped into the net. Both teams had great chances to win in the remaining minutes, but a point apiece from a high scoring draw was a fair reflection on an entertaining game which both teams pushed hard to win, and was enough to lift Jarvis Brook out of the relegation zone.

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