Thursday, 12 November 2015

Hailsham Town 1 v 8 Lewes

Tuesday 10th November 2015
The Beaconsfield, Hailsham
Sussex Senior Cup Second Round
Admission: £6.00
Programme: 50p
Attendance: 186
Match Rating: 4

On an evening offering some tempting fixtures in the Sussex Senior Cup, I plumped for a return visit to the Beaconsfield despite my most recent visit being just a month ago, as it offered plenty of potential for a cup shock.

Separated by two steps in the pyramid, both of this evening’s teams have difficult seasons so far.  Hailsham were third bottom in the Southern Combination League Premier Division, having won two and drawn one on their 13 games so far, although they have reached the second round of the FA Vase, and reached this round of the Sussex Senior Cup by beating St Francis Rangers 2-0 at home, a fixture I watched. Lewes were beaten finalists in this competition last season, but were second bottom of the Isthmian League Premier Division coming into this game, with just seven points from their 19 league games, winning just once, and have exited every Cup they have entered at the first hurdle so far this season.

On a dry evening with a chilly breeze, the game started surprisingly evenly given that Lewes were fielding pretty much their first team, Hailsham probably having the better of the first half whilst Lewes tended to rely on long balls forward. On 24 minutes, Hailsham took the lead, when a ball down the right wing sprung the offside trap, and Sam Divall ran towards goal with the ball before placing it under the keeper. Hailsham really should have doubled their lead when a great curling ball down the middle set Luke Snashall through on goal, and the keeper slipped as he raced out, but Snashall inexplicably rushed his shot at an unguarded goal and sent the ball just wide of the post. It was to prove a crucial miss. Two minutes before half time, Lewes scored an undeserved equaliser. After a defender slipped, the ball was played across the box and Richard Pacquette turned the ball into the net.

This turned out to be a game very much of two halves - Hailsham could feel unfortunate to not have taken a lead into the interval, but Lewes completely blew them away in the second half. Lewes went into the lead on 49 minutes, when Alex Malins nodded home from close range, and they opened up a two goal cushion within a minute when the keeper came racing well out of his area, but Pacquette got to the ball first and struck the ball into the unguarded net from about 40 yards. The goal that really killed the game off on 54 minutes was controversial in that the referee awarded a free kick to Hailsham when they were in possession and attacking. The ball was given away from the free kick, lumped forward and Laing shot across the keeper and into the net. On 76 minutes, Lewes scored their fifth. A free kick was played down the middle and although Pacquette seemed to foul a defender in getting to the ball, he placed his eventual shot past the keeper to claim his hat-trick. Hailsham really were a beaten team now, and conceded a sixth two minutes later. The ball was crossed low into the box and the defender made a complete hash of dealing with the ball  and as it squirmed to the far post, Pacquette tapped in from a yard or so for his fourth of the match. Lewes made it 1-7 on 83 minutes and following a good run to the byline, the ball was eventually struck home from a central position by Henry Muggeridge. With Lewes cutting through a dispirited Hailsham team at will by now, I was beginning to wonder if I would watch a team run up 10 goals for the second time in four days, but as it turned out, Lewes only scored one more, on 86 minutes, when Malin thumped the ball home following a corner.

So, Lewes did, as expected, progress to the next round and no doubt will taken some confidence from tonight. But their first half display would have been a worry, and if Hailsham had scored that second goal, the outcome could have been very different. 

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