Friday, 3 April 2015

Wadhurst United 2 v 0 Bexhill AAC

Wednesday 1st April 2015
Hastings FA Junior Cup Final
Recreation Ground, Little Common
Admission and Programme: £3.00
Attendance: 100 (estimate)
Match Rating: 3

Another East Sussex cup final for me to take in this evening, and the one I was probably looking forward to the most of all, with one of the teams from the village, Wadhurst, where I spent most of my adult life.  It would also mean my second visit to the Little Common Recreation Ground in just over a week.

The Hastings Junior Club is contested by clubs below the Premier Division of the East Sussex League, with both finalists currently competing in Division One. Bexhill were in their place in the division, with 26 points from 11 games, and look very well placed to at least win promotion and probably as Champions, whilst Wadhurst were in sixth place in the nine team division, with 17 points from 13 games. Wadhurst were unable to raise a side in the fixture between the two teams in December, whilst Bexhill triumphed 0-4 a month later in Wadhurst. To reach this evening's final, Wadhurst received a walkover in the first round, before winning 0-6 at Icklesham Casuals, 3-0 at home to Peche Hill Select II, before beating AFC Hastings on penalties after a 4-4 draw in the semi-final. Bexhill AAC beat Mountfield United 5-2 at home, 0-6 away to Sedlescombe Rangers, 1-3 away to Pebsham Sibex, before overcoming Ticehurst 2-3 away. The programme was typical for Hastings FA cup finals - a four page publication including a welcome message, routes to the final, league table and predicted line-ups.

On a cool evening, Wadhurst, arguably the underdogs, were more than a match for Bexhill, as the first half was generally a midfield battle with neither side creating much in the final third, although in first half added on time, Bexhill saw a header cleared off the line. Before the game, Wadhurst probably would have been happy to get to half time on level terms, but the first half would have given them every encouragement that they could go on to win this game.

Much of the second half continued in the same vein as the first, although on 78 minutes it was Wadhurst's turn to have a goalbpund effort cleared off the line. As extra time looked inevitable, Wadhurst took the lead in the last minute of normal time. The ball was crossed in from deep toward the far post, and the striker headed the ball powerfully into the net, despite the ball hitting the keeper en route, to cue wild celebrations amongst the players, coaches and the majority of the crowd. Five minutes into injury time and Wadhurst confirmed the cup would be heading up to north East Sussex with a second, the striker scoring his second when he rifled in a shot from virtually a standing position at the edge of the area which beat the keeper at his near post. Bexhill still had time to see a header cleared off the line, but it was Wadhurst who lifted the cup shortly after the final whistle, which they just about deserved, and Bexhill will be disappointed they put in a very average performance which was not in keeping with their recent form, winning their last four games and have only lost once in the league all season.

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