Mid Sussex League Premier Division
The Saffrons Eastbourne
Admission and Programme: N/A
Match Rating: 3
With still no early evening matches sufficiently convenient or appealing, I decided to pay another visit to The Saffrons, to take in some intermediate football with Willingdon Athletic playing some of their midweek home matches at the home of Eastbourne Town.
A third place finish is all Willingdon have left to play for this season, as they came into this match in fourth place, level on points with third placed Balcombe having played a game less. They have won 12 and drawn two of their 23 league games. They had a great result at The Saffrons last Tuesday, when they beat champions elect Jarvis Brook 4-1. Buxted are fighting to avoid relegation, second bottom in the division with six wins and three draws from their 22 games, but with three games in hand on Portslade Athletic, with whom they are level and points and one point behind fourth bottom Forest Row, they should be able to rise a couple of places by the time the season finishes. When the two teams met back in September, Buxted won 4-1.
On a lovely sunny evening with a chilly edge to the breeze, the first half was an even affair, with Buxted more than holding their own, and indeed they took the lead on 26 minutes. A ball through the middle just evaded a defender, allowing the Buxted player through on goal and he lashed a shot past the keeper. Hillingdon almost drew level within a minute, when a free kick fell to a player at the back post, but his first time, close range shot was parried wide. They did equalise on 38 minutes though. The ball was swung in from the right and the ball was headed back across the keeper and into the net.
Into the second half and Willingdon stepped their performance up to mostly dominate the second half, and after coming close on a couple of occasions, they scored what turned out to be the winner. A free kick was struck from just outside the area and although the keeper shouted “safe”, the ball actually skimmed the bottom of the crossbar before finding the back of the net. For the remainder of the game, it was only Willingdon who looked like scoring again, as they forced a couple of smart saves and saw a header from a corner headed off the line, as Buxted resorted to fouls to try to contain Willingdon. So a deserved win for Willingdon and they have a great chance of clinching a third place finish. If Buxted can take forward their decent first half performance in future games, then they will still have a good chance of avoiding a bottom two finish.