It was a day of mixed starts for our two teams in the new Southern Combination League.
Both were away: The Fronts notched a great two-nothing win at Eastbourne, but the Hornets went down fighting 3-2 in Bexhill.
The matches had a heady cocktail of goals, smart play and controversial decisions.
At the Bexhill Academy the ‘H’s lined up against an Atha team fielding no fewer than five former players or Hastings residents. It was like a training match at home. Deadeye Chris opened the scoring with a trademark turn and scorcher into the top corner which gave keeper Burmingham no chance and they were coasting.
Then came the moment of drama which turned the game, and it was a carbon copy of a recent training incident at Les Academias. The Atha broke through the Hornets’ defence and saw a foul committed just outside the ‘D’ which ref Jesse rightly blew for, but as he did, the ball rolled sideways and Trigger Iscariot leathered it home past Pocketsize Pete in the Hornets’ goal. Jesse thought long and hard about it and eventually allowed the advantage and the goal stood.
(The similar decision at Les Academias known locally as the ‘you-couldn’t-make-it-up’ incident was furiously contested, led to a change in our club constitution and a player defection.) But the players did not get in the ref’s face and accepted their fate with the minimum of grumbling.
Oddly, if PP had just stood rooted to the spot and played to the whistle the ref might have not given the goal, but, because Pete made a valiant attempt to save it, it looked more of an easy decision. 1-1.
The goal dented the confidence of the ‘H’s, Chrissie spurned a couple of chances he would normally gobble up and The Atha went ahead when Popdark pounced on a parry from the keeper and calmly rolled it in. 2-1.
The home side went further ahead with a lovely goal by striker Clive and the ‘H’s couldn’t capitalise on the extra man when HR Hassan was blue-carded for a last-ditch foul (it should have been a red) and Pistol Pete was red-carded for an egregious two-footed tackle on Deadeye.
Chrissie got us back in the hunt with his second of the morning, but it wasn’t to be and the match finished 3-2.
Pocket Pete was busy on his debut and did well and the only other plus point was when Trigger missed a penalty after Touchline tiptoed into the box.
If Pete was important at Penland Road, then Tony the Goalie at Priory Lane was even more so.
Without the England international’s heroics it could have been a cricket score for the Front Side.
Tony made five saves from El Jay alone and was only beaten by a splendid debut goal from Beaky and a second from Peruvian Mick.
United totally dominated the match with Iron Russ pulling all his usual strings and Eastbourne Borough had no answer to the Front Side’s relentless pass-and-move game.
Sadly, El Jay tweaked his calf after putting in a good shift and will need treatment, but the squad’s depth will cover his recovery.
Men of the match: Deadeye for the Hornets. El Jay for his relentless efforts for the Fronts.