Southern Combination Walking Football League
The Atha vs Hastings
Bexhill College, 8 June 2023
The Atha 0 Hastings 3
The Front Side did the business in Bexhill tonight with a solid three-nil win over The Atha.
If the shot count of 19 to Hastings and only five to the home side was the match indicator then this would appear – statistically – as a walkover but it was actually anything but. The Atha were a tough nut to crack and bear no resemblance to the side the Fronts beat five-nil earlier in the season.
It was a match played in midfield for the first few minutes before Coach Russ blasted over our first chance. A well-worked free kick saw El Jay shoot hard and low but inches wide before The Atha had their first of only two opportunities in the half. Trigger – their player of the year and top goalscorer – finally got away from his marker but fired well over. Deano and, later when they switched Wingnut, did an excellent job of negating the Trigger threat: they had him bottled up most of the evening.
El Jay turned Big Ian for his second bite at the glory cherry but was inches wide again before the Coach got his chance but struck it straight at Little Brian in goal. It was our first effort on target and it galvanized the team. Councillor Beakster – blinded by the evening sun – drew two super saves from Brian and Russ a third as the Fronts began to dominate proceedings. Mike Barrett spurned the Atha’s only other chance of the half when he blasted over before Lady Luck stepped in to give Hastings a deserved lead. Peruvian Mick – who found good space from midfield all evening – launched one at Brian who flapped at it and saw it loop agonizingly over his head. It was a slo-mo moment as the agile keeper flung himself backwards to scoop the ball away but VAR and Ref Jesse (with eyes like a Russian sniper) adjudged it over the line and awarded Mick his goal. 0 – 1. And to be honest that, very much was that.
The Atha were operating on crumbs but couldn’t make a sandwich and when Mike was blue-carded for a bad-tempered shove on the Coach and Big Wes was tactically subbed for Hassan, Hastings should have made it rain. But Hassan stuck to his defensive task like a sweaty backside on a bus seat and the visitors couldn’t improve on their one-goal advantage. Crofty took Wes off because he was on two warnings and had to ask for calm from both Simon and Mike who were letting their frustration show. Beaky’s last effort of the half was brilliantly turned round the post by Brian and the teams went in with Hastings one up.
Gig had been nothing more than a spectator in the first 20 but showed his concentration with a great save at the foot of his left post from Bill as the half opened. If that had gone in it could well have been a different game. But it turned on a blue card. Hassan had just fired over at one end when he was flipped like a pancake by the now, non-dazzled, Beakster. He could do nothing but tug him back and Jesse carded him.
The visitors’ shots then came like David Beckham in a Ferrari – thick and fast. El Jay fired just wide; Jimbo and Jay both had shots well saved by Brian and Beaks shot wide. Another Atha blue card saw Simon get his marching orders and from the free kick El Jay saw his on-target effort well saved again but The Councillor pounced on the rebound, turned his man and slotted home as though he was finally enjoying his Friday Night Dinner. 0 – 2.
Trig had a rare second-half chance saved by Gig’s feet after sending him the wrong way and the home side’s only other effort was a gargantuan effort from Big Wes which cleared the fence, the trees and Wrestwood Road, bouncing off the roof of a house at least 100 yards from the pitch, startling a teenaged boy who had been relaxing in a gentleman’s way watching Game of Thrones.
Russ put Jimbo through for his next effort and then powered his own shot over before finally Wingnut and Jimbo combined with composure in front of goal. Jimbo had the ball on the edge of the box and – the calmest man on the pitch – placed it beyond the advancing keeper. 0 – 3.
It was nothing less than United deserved. The strikers had 19 efforts between them and Russ bossed the midfield as usual. The defenders all tracked back and Wingnut, Deano and Jimbo all made important blocks. In the face of some very stiff opposition, the Coach kept his head and ensured the job got done. If there was any complaint, it was that time and again the early ball was spurned and that the centre of the Atha team was over-competitive although it was all handshakes at the end.
Jesse reffed in his usual hard but fair style and there were plentiful refreshments at the close. Man of the match for The Atha was Brian who pulled off a string of great saves and will be punishing himself unnecessarily for the first goal. Without him it could have been a rout. Jimbo wins the accolade for our MoM with a beautifully-taken goal and his tireless tracking back. He did switch off once – which Russ didn’t let slide – but everyone’s allowed a moment. Best game he’s played for the Fronts.