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Report 8th April 2023



Hastings Hornets 2 Battle Knights 1

The late great Jimmy Greaves once said: “It’s a funny old game, football. ” And he was right.

Battle Knights are the only team to beat Old Bexhillians this season and came to The Academy facing a bottom-of-the-league Hornets side who haven’t had a win in weeks. They must have fancied their chances as they made their way to Hastings sharing the A21 with Bank Holiday day trippers.

But they came unstuck, beaten 2-1 by an H’s team that played as a unit for half an hour and looked good from the off.

It was mostly Hornets in the first half. The shot count was 12 to 3. The Battle keeper bashed his elbow on the post with the first save he made and the Cat held on well to the visitors’ first attempt. The Riddler, Matty Longshanks, John Dyer and Chairs all went close but couldn’t find a way through. At the back John and Puffing Paul were mopping everything up and the Hornets had a good 80 per cent possession rate. The links were strong from the back two through midfield and one ten-minute spell was the best football they have played all season. Calm. Confident and marshalled by a fog horn John Dyer who captained the side well.

For the first time there was movement off the ball and good covering at the back if the defenders went forward. Going in at nil-all at halftime it looked as though the single goal would decide it – provided the two in-form keepers could be beaten.

The Riddler and Matty made way for Welsh international Touchline Mike and Deadeye at the kick off and player manager West Ham Paul’s substitution paid off when Chris opened the scoring at his second attempt. The Cat made a superb save with a big left paw, Touchline picked up the rebound and threaded a cross-field ball with slide rule precision into the striker who beat his man and hammered it low into the far corner to beat the keeper. 1-0.

The Knights now couldn’t sit back and pressed forward carving out openings in the defence. When we should have been playing the simple ball, we were caught in possession going Hollywood and TLM was given a torrid time on the unfamiliar right wing. Twice he fluffed roll-outs from the goal kicks and let Battle in.

The Cat had made four good saves before the visitors equalized: he was undone by a clever feint from Gary Walsh who squared instead of shooting and put Laurie in for an open goal while the Cat sat on his ample backside instead of the traditional mat. 1-1.

And the Hornets went to pieces. Instead of holding on to the ball, they were rattled by Battle who threw everything into the attack, smelling blood and sensing victory. It was a tough ten minutes but The Cat stood tall and coped with the onslaught. Another good substitution by WHP won the game as Chairs was replaced by The Riddler. The H’s didn’t look like they had a winner in them, but when Deadeye pounced on a through ball from the keeper, he set Riddler up and the tattoo king made no mistake. His shot hit the post and the keeper before ricocheting in and at 2-1 the home side parked the bus for the last few tense minutes.

This was definitely the closest game of the season and the win lifts the Hornets off the bottom to mid-table. The game was fairly reffed by Mark Vincent and Carol was on hand with the post-match hospitality eagerly gobbled up by the Easter weekenders.

Battled named the Cat as their man of the match – his second half left-hand save from Laurie Wray was a worldy and he foiled them twice with one-on-one saves; and the home side named Battle’s keeper who made two sensational saves and a string of meat-and-drink stops.

But special mention goes to John Dyer who was a (very short) tower of strength. He might be a tad too loud for some but he marshalled the Hornets to victory. So we beat Battle 2-1, they beat OB 1-0 and Bexhill beat the Hornets 4-0. As they say….