Southern Combination Football League – Premier Division
Broadbridge Heath travelled to The Oval to take on bottom club Eastbourne United, who under new Manager Arron Hopkinson appear to have had an improvement in their fortunes, their last outing a 2-0 win over Lingfield.
Both teams needing the points for different reasons, Heath to stay in touch with the summit and United to climb from the bottom – Heath expecting a tough test from the home side on a bitterly cold evening on the coast.
Heath started the game with ten men, awaiting the arrival of Andy Waddingham, who thankfully arrived shortly after kick off and also welcomed the return of Kieron Thorp in goal, but were without influential midfielder Lee Carney, striker Dean Wright and central defender Marlon Maxwell – Dean Robinson brought in to partner Devon Fender and George Cousins in attack.
Eastbourne started the game in lively fashion, with Heath without Carney taking a while to counter the homes sides’ passing game. However, once overcome it was Fender who almost gave Heath the lead, meeting a left wing cross with only the goalkeeper to beat, somehow missing the target.
Robinson, Fender and Cousins all going close in quick succession before United had a shot that whistled past Thorps left hand post, but a pretty non-eventful first half with neither goalkeeper being called into serious action – the sides going in goaless at half-time.
The second half continued in the same vein until midway through the half Ollie Moore was shown a straight red card by referee Tom Price for what looked like a fair challenge. Price appeared to be the only person in the ground who deemed it a foul and duly dismissed Moore from the field.
On 75 minutes Dean Robinson was replaced with Alfie Jones , Richard Wetton pushing into a more forward position.
With skipper Tom Bold struggling with an injury Heath were now up against it and had to dig deep to combat Eastbournes’ mainly aerial threat, but United were also gaining a bit more control in the middle of the park due to the extra man. However, Heath were still dangerous on the break and with the back four of Wetton, Martin Flack, Ryan Brackpool and Jamie Robinson dealing with everything thrown at them, Cousins giving the full back the runaround, it was now looking like the visitors may snatch the points. Again it was Fender, put through by Bold, who almost broke the deadlock – his shot well saved by Jordan Hawkins.
However, despite a valiant effort from both teams the game ended in stalemate – Heaths third clean sheet in a row and fourth game unbeaten.
Broadbridge Heaths players now have the weekend off with the next game on Saturday 19th January when Little Common are the visitors to Broadbridge Heath Leisure Centre.
Heath: Thorp, Wetton, Flack, Brackpool, J. Robinson, Waddingham, Bold ©, Moore,Cousins, D. Robinson (Jones) and Fender.
Unused Subs: Sim, Evento, D. Riecker
Sports Reporter: Mick Robinson