Below strength Bexhill clinch four-star win

Ryan Harffey on the ball for Bexhill United against Midhurst & Easebourne. Picture courtesy Mark Killy
Ryan Harffey on the ball for Bexhill United against Midhurst & Easebourne. Picture courtesy Mark Killy

Bexhill United Football Club defied the absence of several players to record another good away win on Saturday.

The Pirates triumphed 4-2 away to Midhurst & Easebourne in Macron Store Southern Combination Football League Division One - the perfect response to suffering their first defeat of the campaign seven days previously.

Bexhill manager Ryan Light said: “I was really pleased with it. We showed a different side to us. We rolled our sleeves up and it was a really workmanlike performance.”

Missing Connor Robertson, Kevin Barden, Kyle Holden, Craig McFarlane and Nathan Lopez, Bexhill made the long journey west with only one substitute and Gordon Cuddington played despite only being around 70 percent fit.

Bexhill gave a first start to Ryan Harffey in midfield, while Lewis McGuigan came in at centre-half and produced a performance which Light described as ‘exceptional’.

Harffey laid on the game’s opening goal, playing a good throughball for Drew Greenall to round the goalkeeper and beat the defender on the line with his finish.

Georges Gouet bears down on the Midhurst goal. Picture courtesy Mark Killy

Georges Gouet bears down on the Midhurst goal. Picture courtesy Mark Killy

The game was a battle, but Bexhill seemed fairly comfortable until an error led to Midhurst equalising. Bexhill goalkeeper Dan Rose was caught too far out and too wide, allowing Midhurst to pass the ball into the middle for Gary Norgate to roll into a virtually open goal.

Rose had a good game after that, though, and Bexhill retook the lead, in possibly the game’s key moment, before half time. Georges Gouet broke clear of his marker down the right and although his shot was saved, the ball broke to Corey Wheeler, who beat a defender in a crowded penalty box and calmly slotted home.

Bexhill went up a level again at the start of the second period. The visitors coped well with Midhurst’s strength and physicality, and showed quality in possession kicking up the slope.

They went 3-1 up when Gouet again broke down the right, cut inside and struck a shot which the goalkeeper saved with his studs, but the ball squirmed across goal to Greenall, who finished neatly back into the far corner for his second of the game.

Ashley Kidman prepares to strike the ball. Picture courtesy Mark Killy

Ashley Kidman prepares to strike the ball. Picture courtesy Mark Killy

Bexhill seemed relax and kept the ball well, but Midhurst again pulled one back. A ball was drilled across from the left and Norgate arrived to score from around the penalty spot with a well-struck shot which went under Rose.

Bexhill, nonetheless, showed good maturity to see the game out and although the players had put in a lot of effort, they looked quite fresh towards the end.

The result was put beyond doubt by a fourth Bexhill goal. Greenall, who was a menace throughout, got in behind two Midhurst defenders and was brought down as they caught him. The reliable Craig Ottley stepped up to convert the resulting penalty.

Greenall, in fact, was unlucky not to score at least a hat-trick as he hit the foot of both posts.

The result moved Bexhill up to fourth in the table with 11 points from six games.

Bexhill: Rose; Rea, McGuigan, Kidman, Ottley; Harffey, Cuddington, Giles; Gouet, Wheeler (Butchers), Greenall.

Southern Combination League Division One top seven (played six matches unless stated): 1 Selsey 18pts, 2 LITTLE COMMON 16, 3 Wick 16, 4 BEXHILL UNITED 11, 5 Mile Oak 10, 6 Langney Wanderers (5) 10, 7 Seaford Town 10.