Bexhill beaten in cup quarter-final
Bexhill United's footballers were beaten by Langney Wanderers for the third time this season, but they were at least far more competitive on Saturday.
Having been hammered 5-0 and 8-1 in the two league meetings between the clubs, Bexhill went down 3-2 in a Macron Store Southern Combination Football League Division One Challenge Cup quarter-final.
A hat-trick from former Bexhill forward Paul Rogers proved decisive in a match which was switched to Eastbourne Borough FC's artificial 3G pitch at a day's notice.
On a sunny but very cold afternoon, Bexhill had an early scare when full-back Craig Ottley did well to clear a Shane Saunders header from Paul Weatherby's left wing corner off the line in the fourth minute.
Langney drew first blood, however, 11 minutes later. Rogers received a quick throw-in from Wayne Wilkinson on the left and lifted the ball over Craig McFarlane before slotting past goalkeeper Elliot Stokes at the near post.
Bexhill were back on level terms within a minute, though. Ottley's inswinging free kick from the right was glanced into the far corner of the net by Gordon Cuddington.
The score remained 1-1 through until half time, mainly thanks to the splendid form of stand-in Bexhill goalkeeper Stokes, although Bexhill did have their moments going forward too.
Midway through the half, Stokes did well to parry a powerful angled drive from Saunders up in the air and seconds later made a good save to his right from a Rogers header.
Stokes later pulled off a fine save, again to his right, as Rogers let fly from the edge of the area. Rogers then headed the resulting Weatherby corner over the top from close range.
At the other end, Drew Greenall - who performed manfully up-front for Bexhill - dispossessed Langney goalkeeper Josh Langley-Fineing as he tried to shield the ball out of play on Bexhill's right and struck a left-foot shot from the tightest of angles into the side-netting.
Cuddington shot just over from 25 yards after good work from Corey Wheeler and in added time at the end of the half, Greenall got on the end of McFarlane's ball down the left and saw his angled shot saved by the feet of Langley-Fineing.
Rogers headed just wide from a Weatherby corner 10 minutes into the second half before giving Langney the lead for the second time in the 63rd minute.
Bexhill full-back Kenny Butchers brought down Ashley Jarvis inside the box following a Rogers flick and Rogers sent Stokes the wrong way from the resulting penalty.
Wilkinson fired wide of the near post at the end of a slick Langney break and Rogers, who won just about everything in the air as he tormented Bexhill again, drove just off target from outside the area.
Langney were reduced to 10 men in the 80th minute when Ashley Chatfield was shown a second yellow card for pulling back Georges Gouet as he sped down the Bexhill right.
Despite their numerical disadvantage, Langney extended their lead six minutes later. Wilkinson played a long diagonal ball from the right over Bexhill's defence which Rogers controlled perfectly with his first touch before slamming past Stokes with his left foot.
Jarvis missed the target when invitingly placed to make it 4-1 from a Rogers cutback and Bexhill instead made it 3-2 in the fourth minute of added time.
To the surprise of just about everyone, the referee awarded a penalty for a foul on Cuddington as he headed Kyle Holden's cross and the reliable Ottley tucked away the spot-kick for his 10th of the season, putting him back above Cuddington's as the club's leading scorer.
Bexhill: Stokes, Butchers (Kane 90), Ottley, Robertson, McFarlane, Holden, Gouet, Giles (Shelton 90), Greenall, Cuddington, Wheeler. Subs not used: Miah, Rayner.
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