Four-star Bexhill make it back-to-back wins

Bexhill United wider player Georges Gouet keeps a close eye on a Lingfield opponent. Pictures by Simon Newstead
Bexhill United wider player Georges Gouet keeps a close eye on a Lingfield opponent. Pictures by Simon Newstead
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Bexhill United's footballers banished memories of a painful defeat to Lingfield at the start of December by winning the return match on Saturday.

The Pirates saw a 3-1 lead turn into a 5-3 defeat after a lengthy period of added time when the teams previously met, but exacted satisfying revenge with a 4-2 victory at The Polegrove this time around.

Seventh-placed Bexhill struck twice in either half and were never behind against sixth-placed Lingfield as they recorded back-to-back Macron Store Southern Combination Football League Division One wins and a first home victory since late November.

Bexhill started brightly enough on a sunny afternoon and Corey Wheeler was twice denied by good saves from away goalkeeper Olly Moore from one-on-one situations in the opening 10 minutes.

The hosts duly opened the scoring through a terrific 30-yard strike by Gordon Cuddington which the goalkeeper got a hand to and palmed upwards only for the ball to drop beneath the crossbar.

Lingfield levelled in contentious fashion. The ball bounced up off Bexhill goalkeeper Elliot Stokes and hit Lingfield forward Jamie Bakhit on the arm before he knocked it into the net.

Johnny Akoto prepares to clip the ball down the line.

Johnny Akoto prepares to clip the ball down the line.

"I'm not saying it was on purpose, but it was a massive advantage gained," said Bexhill joint manager Ryan Light of the alleged handball.

Bexhill reacted really well and were ahead again within five minutes. Wheeler produced a great piece of skill on the left and cut into the box before pulling the ball across the area. Moore got a palm to it, but Cuddington came sliding in at the far post to score his second of the afternoon, fifth in three games and 13th of the season.

"It was really important we responded in that manner; we had that kind of fight about us," said Light.

After a fairly tight first half, Bexhill retained possession much better during the second period, helping them conjure up 13 shots at goal to Lingfield's five.

Gordon Cuddington brings the ball under control as Kyle Holden looks on.

Gordon Cuddington brings the ball under control as Kyle Holden looks on.

They went 3-1 up with an excellent team goal. Georges Gouet played in Johnny Akoto (making his Bexhill debut after Hastings United's game at South Park was postponed) down the right and he went past the Lingfield full-back before whipping the ball across for Wheeler to score with a diving header at the far post.

Bexhill had a glorious chance to put the outcome beyond doubt when Drew Greenall's cross from the left sailed over the goalkeeper, but the stretching Gouet couldn't direct his shot on target with the goal at his mercy.

Moments later, Kyle Holden appeared to be brought down in the Lingfield box, but the referee ignored Bexhill's appeals for a penalty and instead awarded a goal kick.

Lingfield then got one back when forward Brett Caiger got on the end of a ball over the top as Ashley Kidman hesitated and rolled a low shot past Stokes.

Nathan Lopez closes down a Lingfield opponent.

Nathan Lopez closes down a Lingfield opponent.

But unlike last time, there was to be no dramatic late turnaround on this occasion. Cuddington fired just over from 20 yards and then saw a goalbound effort from Gouet's pass deflect just wide. From the resulting Craig Ottley corner, centre-half Craig McFarlane headed home at the near post with the aid of a deflection to make it 4-2.

Wheeler had a decent chance to make it five, but blazed over from Cuddington's pass.

"I thought we were very good on the ball all through the second half and I thought we saw the game out in a very mature fashion," added Light.

Bexhill: Stokes, Akoto, Ottley, Kidman, McFarlane, Holden, Gouet (Lopez), Robertson, Greenall, Cuddington, Wheeler. Subs not used: Shelton, Butchers, Olujobi, Willis.

Southern Combination League Division One top seven (played-points): 1 Saltdean United 25-56, 2 East Preston 24-55, 3 LITTLE COMMON 25-53, 4 Mile Oak 26-53, 5 Steyning Town 27-50, 6 Lingfield 24-42, 7 BEXHILL UNITED 27-37.

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