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Report 18th March 2023



Old Bexhillians 3 Hastings United 2

Old Bexhillians won the top of the table clash against Hastings United and, barring disasters, will go on to win the Southern Combination League title.

Everything hinged on this geriatric El Classico derby and anyone who thinks otherwise is either dim or deluded.

And with so much at stake it was a hard-fought, bitter contest; not dirty but demonstrating full-throttle commitment from both sides. The game was effectively won in the first minute with an Alan ‘Elbows’ Osman wonder goal which stunned United into silence. Put through down the left, he out-muscled Deano at the back and unleashed a wicked left-footed shot that was in the back of the net from an almost impossible angle before GIG even saw it. No keeper likes to be beaten with the first effort on goal and Colin talked earlier about getting the first save under his belt but he can’t be blamed for an incredible goal and played superbly for the rest of the match to keep the H’s in touch.

The early strike didn’t put the wind up the visitors and there was no hint of a collapse.

Coach Russ – stung into action – latched onto a forward ball right from the kick-off and his powerful shot was deflected out for a corner. When the ball came in, hard and low, Peruvian Mick was on the edge of the box to score the equalizer. It was a lightning strike and delighted the travelling fans. One all after two minutes and the game hadn’t yet settled.

It was all Bexhill for the next ten minutes. Russ and Deano both made good blocks from Elbows and Dougie respectively before GIG made a great save to his left from Osman and then went feet first twice to deny Bexhill a bigger lead.

Gradually Hastings were getting into the game. El Jay, carrying an injury and not fully fit, was holding the ball up at the front and United strung together splendid attacking moves, only let down by the final through ball. Blakey turned in a great shift and had two chances where he ghosted in from the right. The first was well saved by a boot in the OB goal by Big H; the second beat the keeper but was agonizingly inches wide. Immediately at the other end GIG was in action making the save of the match down to his right.

The teams were on even terms when disaster struck for Hastings; Osman – doing a passable impression of Usain Bolt’s dad – was through on goal, leaving the Coach in his wake and Russ leaned in. The tackle was dead centre and was adjudged to be a goal-scoring opportunity so a pen was awarded and Russ given a blue card. Osman slotted the penalty with no problem, in off the post with Colin sent the wrong way.

It was cat and mouse until half time. El Jay had his only shot of the half sear inches past the upright and Big H denied Blakey for a second time before the teams went in.

The second half was another ding-dong battle. Elbows completed his superb hat-trick with a sneaky toe poke almost between Blakey’s legs right on the line. United appealed for an infringement but the goal stood. 3-1.

The visitors were handed a partial life line when Big Chris tip toed into the box. He’d had a relatively easy first half looking after El Jay but gave away the penalty. There was only going to be one man to take it. Russ stepped up and gave the keeper no chance. Cool as a cucumber in a freezer at the North Pole.

Deano who had been excellent, but perhaps not as vocal as usual, made way for Jimbo for the last ten minutes as Hastings pushed forward seeking the equalizer. He fluffed his first chance but then struck one sweetly that was brilliantly saved by Big H.

The Coach skied two chances that would have got points at Twickenham before getting one on target only to see Howard’s big boot in the way again. It was all Hastings for six or seven minutes. Elbows was swapped with Steve Overs before he got sent off. The ref had warned him repeatedly for running and when he got blue-carded for an egregious two-footed tackle on the Coach, Bexhill manager Duncan Winnet-Allcost pulled him off before he saw red.

It was the only bad tackle of a hard fought game. The sort that would have interested the police not on a 999 call but certainly worth a 101 enquiry. But Russell Small wasn’t biting. No retaliation. Just a shake of the head. The bigger man. And it finished 3-2 with the title in the bag.

Oddly, both sides were criticizing ref Phil but he couldn’t have been fairer.

Both sides were awarded a penalty; both had one player blue-carded; both sides had one goal allowed that may have been on the line when struck and both sides had their running infringements whistled. Phil reffed a hard game fairly. He could have red-carded Russ for his infringement. He could have red carded manager Winnet-Allcost for marching onto the pitch to protest at a decision. But he didn’t.

Hastings travelling supporters need thanking for their efforts: Ricky, Speedy Steve, The Cat, Chairs, Puffing Paul, Deadeye, Doc Dyer and probably others were on hand. A special mention to Wingnut too. He’s the sub that never gets on but prowls the line in encouraging mode and shows what being part of a team is all about. You don’t have to play to be a good influence.

Bexhill’s fans don’t need a name-check because they loyally follow their teams across the county. Some of them have simply nothing better to do! Week in week out they are on the touchlines and all the other league teams are envious of the support they give their teams.

The title now is OBs’ to lose and I can’t see anyone else beating them. There isn’t a weak link in their team and if they played more football than moaning they would win more friends.

This was the most whingey football match I have seen. Whining about stuff gets us nowhere. Just let the football do the talking.

And remember: sing when you’re whinging.


Man of the match: Osman for his excellent Bexhill hat trick and Coach Russ for keeping his head and driving forward under extreme provocation. A shining example of sportsmanship. He’s a credit to the shirt.