Bexhill United Football Club was left to rue a lack of ruthlessness in the final third as it was beaten 1-0 away to 10-man opposition last night (Tuesday).
The Pirates had the opportunities to have picked up three points in their penultimate fixture of the Macron Store Southern Combination League Division One season, but couldn’t find the target and conceded a late winner against a Billingshurst team which played the second half a man down.
Bexhill manager Ryan Light said: “It was frustrating, but we never really hit full stride. Things didn’t really click into place and we could play a lot better.
“We rued our missed chances really, especially the ones in the first half. We could’ve put the game to bed by half time. You keep these teams in the game and there’s always a chance they could get an opportunity - and they took it.
“Just disappointed with our general play in the final third as a team. I think we were a little bit toothless and we could’ve done more in the final third.”
Bexhill only arrived at the ground around 15 minutes before kick-off after what Light described as a ‘nightmare’ two-and-a-half-hour journey.
“These lads bust a gut to get across the county in rush hour traffic and if it’s a delayed kick-off the club gets a fine,” continued Light. “Looking at the distance we had to travel, an 8 o’clock kick-off would’ve just eased the pressure a bit.”
Billingshurst had the look of a side fighting for their lives and were very lively early on. It took Bexhill 20 minutes to settle down and start playing a bit of football, and from that point onwards they were the team in the ascendancy.
Bexhill were getting a bit of joy with diagonal balls and started to fashion the better chances. Wayne Giles was twice through one-on-one with the goalkeeper following balls over the Billingshurst full-back. The first time he tried to go round the goalkeeper, but lost the ball out of play and the second occasion he poked a half-shot, half-cross past the goalkeeper only for it to be cleared off the line.
Kenny Butchers also came close when his first shot was saved and the second cleared off the line by a backtracking defender. Ryan Harffey drifted past a couple of players and let fly with a thunderous left-footed shot which flew inches over the crossbar.
Billingshurst had a player sent-off on the stroke of half time. Having gone in for a tackle with Gordon Cuddington, who was hurt in the process, Jordan Stallibrass got up and stamped on the Bexhill midfielder, giving the referee little option but to produce the red card.
“It was so unnecessary and it wasn’t even subtle,” said Light.
Bexhill were much better kicking down the slope during the second half. They had a lot of the ball and territory, but didn’t really create too much in the third quarter.
They then fashioned several opportunities in quick succession. The home goalkeeper denied Harffey as he tried to clip the ball over him, Lewis McGuigan headed wide at a corner, Connor Robertson slid in with a Billingshurst defender and the ball crashed against the post, and another Bexhill effort was cleared off the line.
By now it had the feel of one of those nights for Bexhill and it was almost predictable that Billingshurst would nick a winner on break.
The home winger flashed past Chris Rea with a blistering turn of pace and delivered a low cross into the six-yard box. McGuigan slid in with Billingshurst forward Craig Grantham and the ball squirmed past Bexhill goalkeeper Dan Rose into the net.
“The result wasn’t what we wanted it to be, but full respect to everybody for making that journey on a Tuesday night,” added Light.
Harffey and Kyle Holden were Bexhill’s stand-out performers, with Light describing Harffey’s performance as ‘immense’.
Bexhill: Rose; Robertson, McGuigan, McFarlane, Rea; Holden, Harffey, Cuddington; Butchers (Robinson), McEniry, Giles.
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