Bexhill United manager Ryan Light praised ‘the most complete team performance’ in his time at the football club after beginning the new season with a victory on Saturday.
A second half goal from Drew Greenall gave the Pirates a 1-0 win away to fellow Macron Store Southern Combination Football League Division One side Southwick in round one of the Peter Bentley Challenge Cup.
Light said: “It was excellent actually. One-nil doesn’t even do it justice. It was probably the most complete football performance since I’ve been at the club and it almost caught everyone by surprise. We were that dominant and that good. There wasn’t one player who fell below anyone else. Everything just fell into place.”
Bexhill, who finished one position and two points above Southwick in the league last term, pinned their opponents back and restricted them to just two or three attacks during an excellent first half.
Although they didn’t create many clearcut chances, Bexhill passed the ball well, looked sharp, were so quick to every second ball and seemed to find little pockets of space all over the pitch.
Nathan Lopez was outstanding, covering seemingly every blade of grass and making countless tackles. Wayne Giles was also exceptional, Kyle Holden was as good as you’d expect and Chris Rea was highly impressive on his debut at right-back.
Light stressed to his players at half time of the need to maintain their high levels during the second period and they duly did. But a goal continued to prove elusive and although Southwick tired from chasing the ball, they were still very much in the game.
Bexhill twice struck the crossbar. Craig McFarlane did so after rising high at the far post, while Corey Wheeler did likewise and the ball was cleared off the line as Holden looked set to score.
The visitors’ tempo was relentless, but they were starting to get a little bit panicky at being unable to turn their dominance into a goal.
They eventually broke through when Wheeler danced into the box and chipped the ball over the goalkeeper from the byeline for Greenall to volley home with his left foot as it bounced up.
A few players started hobbling in the latter stages from the effort they’d put in and Bexhill made a couple of changes to help see the game out, which they did comfortably.
Bexhill are due to visit Hassocks in round two on a date to be announced.
Bexhill: Rose; Rea, McFarlane, Robertson, Ottley; Holden, Lopez (McGuigan), Giles; Barden (Wheeler), Kidman (Gouet); Greenall.