Big match called-off early

A view of the Battle Recreation Ground pitch yesterday (Wednesday). Picture by Steve Hunnisett (SUS-150121-120051002)
A view of the Battle Recreation Ground pitch yesterday (Wednesday). Picture by Steve Hunnisett (SUS-150121-120051002)
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Battle Baptist Football Club has made an early decision to postpone a hotly-anticipated match in a national knockout competition.

Baptists were due to host Kings Sports in round three of the National Christian Cup this coming Saturday, but the tie was called-off at the start of the week because the Battle Recreation Ground pitch may well be unfit following recent rain.

“Battle Rec is in quite a state and rather than take any risk at the end of the week of it being called-off, we took an early decision on it,” said Baptists manager Gary Walsh.

“It allows the opposition to get another fixture, although unfortunately it doesn’t allow us to get another fixture - it’s too late for that.”

Walsh had hoped to convince the St Albans-based opposition to play the match on the artificial 3G pitch at Claverham Community College in the event of Battle Recreation Ground being unfit.

Battle aren’t permitted to use the 3G surface in the Macron East Sussex Football League Premier Division as it is below the minimum length required, but they did use it in a National Christian Trophy quarter-final against Croydon outfit Emmanuel Lightning two years ago.

Kings Sports manager Keith Hammond, who also organises the competition, declined the 3G option, however, and Walsh isn’t keen on switching the tie to Hertfordshire.

“I’ve got no qualms about that - that’s his prerogative - but it’s a shame because we’ve played on it (the 3G pitch) before and it’s another week off,” continued Walsh.

“This is the only home fixture we’ve got in the competition and home advantage is very important so I’m disinclined to lose that.”

A new date for the match is still to be agreed, but it’s likely to be some time in February.

It means that Baptists, who reached the semi-finals of the National Christian Cup last season, are now unlikely to play at all in January.

Their two scheduled matches so far this month have succumbed to waterlogged pitches and their next game isn’t due to take place until Saturday February 7.

“It’s almost identical to last year,” added Walsh. “It’s kind of like cutting the season into two halves. We’ve got some really frustrated players, and it’s quite difficult to keep the squad together and keep them motivated.”

Battle’s second team - which hasn’t played at all since way back on November 1 - is due to visit Ticehurst II in East Sussex Division Five on Saturday. The thirds are away to Sandhurst II in Division Six.