The Beaconsfield, Hailsham
Sussex Senior Cup Round One
Match Rating: 2
Despite a wet, dreary afternoon, an abundance of local cup games sufficiently tempted me to take in a midweek game this week, and in the end, I chose a revisit to the Beaconsfield.
There have been no noticeable alterations to The Beaconsfield since my last visits in the spring, not that any were needed, save for a couple of welcome/farewell signs posted on the turnstile block. The programme is also unchanged in format and style, although this evening's fixture was a double issue also covering last Saturday's home fixture. Although basic in content, it serves its purpose and is good value at just 50p.
There is little realistic prospect of either of these clubs gracing the Amex turf in the final next spring, although getting through a round or two could set up a game against National League opposition or the Development Squad of Brighton or Crawley. Both of this evening's teams have struggled in the Southern Combination Premier League so far this season. Hailsham have won one and drawn two of their nine league games so far, which still compares very favourably to St Francis, who have lost all eight of their league games, scoring once and conceding 55. This evening's teams have already met in the league this season, with Hailsham claiming a 1-2 away win - Hailsham's only league win of the season so far, and St Francis' only goal.
After passing a late pitch inspection, which caused a 15 minute delay to kick-off, this match started quite evenly, and St Francis had the first real chance of the game on 14 minutes, when a placed shot heading for the top left corner was palmed away by the keeper. Three minutes later and Hailsham saw a powerful header from a corner well saved. A minute later, though, and Hailsham did take the lead with a glancing header from another corner by Craig McFarlane. Hailsham went on to have the better things for the rest of the half, but they couldn't find the second goal, and the game was still very much in the balance at the half-time break.
Into the second half and St Francis really grew into the game, although from their fewer attacks Hailsham always looked much more likely to convert their attacking moves into goals. The visitors seemed to run out of steam as the second half wore on, and perhaps the deciding moment came when they had a player sent off for two yellow cards in fairly quick succession. Hailsham's lead remained precarious though, until they scored a second right on full-time, when Pat Johnson clipped the ball into the net from the edge of the area. The referee blew the full-time whistle within moments of the restart, and Hailsham will hope for an attractive draw in the next round.