Mid Sussex League Championship
War Memorial Recreation Ground, Polegate
Attendance: 38 (head count)
Match Rating: 3
This evening would be my long awaited first taste of early evening, silly season football of 2016. It would mean a revisit for me, following my previous visit in 2013, but there was still plenty to look forward to, recalling a club that was amazingly welcoming and well organised considering their lowly position in intermediate football on my previous visit.
On arrival today, it was pleasing to note that it retained the smart appearance and organisation as I encountered previously, although on this occasion the pitch was not roped off. But the tea bar is still available for refreshments, and the club still issues a programme, as extremely rare as it is welcome at this standard of football, an 8 page publication with a club introduction, league tables for the various Polegate Town teams, recent results and player stats.
Both of this evening’s teams are playing catch up in the league. Polegate came into this game in seventh place, with six wins and two draws from their 17 games, and although they were nine points adrift of sixth place and ten points adrift of fifth place, Polegate have three games in hand on both clubs residing those positions. Dormansland are even further behind with their games, and came into this game in fourth place, with twelve wins and three defeats from their 15 games, but with at least five games in hand on all three clubs above them, and 14 points adrift of the leaders, winning the division is not out of the question, although perhaps promotion would be the more realistic target. In the reverse fixture played in September, Dormansland won 8-0.
On a beautifully sunny evening, but with a brisk wind which made conditions very chilly once the sun set, Dormansland dominated the opening 20 minutes of this game as they came close on several occasions to opening the scoring. So it came as a big surprise that it was Polegate who opened the scoring on 24 minutes, when George Whitley ran diagonally from the wing towards goal before lashing the ball past the keeper. Things got even better for the home side on 28 minutes. After the keeper fumbled a high ball, a shot was blocked on the line, but Alex Frost then drove the ball into the net. Whilst one could not have seen Polegate taking the lead, let alone scoring twice, they then looked fairly comfortable, and it took a bad mistake by the home keeper to let the visitors back in the game. He fumbled the ball played gently towards him, and the striker a foot to the ball before tapping it into the net. They soon came close several time to getting back on level terms, but Polegate retained their one goal lead at the interval.
After a 5 minute break, Dormansland almost completely dominated the second half, perhaps due in no small part to their physical approach and moaning to the referee, who indeed seemed to really make the most of every situation to talk to the players and issue yellow cards without ever really getting the game under control, which had an increasing niggle about it. On 48 minutes, Dormansland were awarded a penalty when the forward was brought down after turning a defender and running towards goal. After lengthy arguments, the penalty was fired wide to the right of the goal, a real let off for the home team. But the reprieve only lasted six minutes until Dormansland equalised with a fabulous goal, lashed in from the left edge of the area on the run across the keeper and into the net. Dormansland had numerous opportunities to claim the three points, but saw efforts towards goal miss the target, hit the post or a couple of “goals” were ruled out for offside. However, it was Polegate who had the last two good chances to claim the victory, failing to stab the ball home after a scramble in the goalmouth and then saw a header go just wide. But in the end both sides settled for a point – both teams will probably feel disappointed to claim the three points after an entertaining 90 minutes of attacking football, so a point apiece was probably the right result.