Spot-on Ottley earns Bexhill a point

Bexhill United goalscorer Craig Ottley clears the ball away from an AFC Varndeanians opponent. Picture by Simon Newstead
Bexhill United goalscorer Craig Ottley clears the ball away from an AFC Varndeanians opponent. Picture by Simon Newstead

Bexhill United's footballers recorded a second draw in their last three league games on a somewhat frustrating Saturday afternoon at The Polegrove.

A second half penalty from Craig Ottley earned Bexhill a point at home to an AFC Varndeanians side which had opened the scoring in the first eight minutes.

But the Pirates will feel it was two points dropped rather than a point gained against fourth-from-bottom opposition in Macron Store Southern Combination Football League Division One.

Varndeanians have won just one of their opening nine league games, but it was they who struck first. An attempted ball over the top of the home defence came off a Bexhill head and Matt Waterman volleyed home left-footed despite Dan Rose getting a hand to the shot.

Goalscoring opportunities were at a premium during the remainder of the first half with much of the action taking place in midfield. Matt Cunnington saw a shot from outside the box parried by away goalkeeper David Carruthers, while Rose gathered Curtis Gayler's effort from distance.

The second half was a much more lively affair, albeit rather stop-start at times as the referee dished out several yellow cards for either side. Bexhill enjoyed the bulk of the play, with Varndeanians operating on the counter-attack.

Wayne Giles in hot pursuit of a Varndeanians opponent. Picture by Simon Newstead

Wayne Giles in hot pursuit of a Varndeanians opponent. Picture by Simon Newstead

There was controversy less than four minutes after the restart. Cunnington went down in the Varndeanians box and although Bexhill were convinced he was fouled, the referee booked Cunnington for diving.

Bexhill joint manager Ryan Light was sent to the stand after telling the officials just what he thought of the decision.

Georges Gouet had a decent chance to equalise, but his deflected shot from Connor Robertson's pass was gathered by Carruthers. The away goalkeeper then parried an attempt by Kevin Barden, who had only been brought on as a substitute moments earlier.

Varndeanians had a penalty appeal turned down when Waterman went down under the challenge of Ashley Kidman, but the referee did point to the spot at the other end four minutes later.

Gordon Cuddington tries to hold off his marker. Picture by Simon Newstead

Gordon Cuddington tries to hold off his marker. Picture by Simon Newstead

Kyle Holden went down having ridden a couple of challenges and burst into the area, and Craig Ottley send Carruthers the wrong way with his sixth successful penalty of the season. Varndeanians felt, though, that their defender had played the ball and hadn't fouled Holden.

Both teams had a couple of efforts at goal thereafter. Holden's shot from Cunnington's pull-back was blocked and Ottley volleyed just wide of the far post, while at the other end, Rose gathered Tariq Richards' shot from distance and in stoppage time closed down Oscar Wolfstrome sufficiently for the substitute to miss the target.

Bexhill: Rose, Robertson, Ottley, Kidman, McFarlane, Holden, Gouet (Wheeler 67), Giles (Butchers 88), B. Trickett (Barden 67), Cuddington, Cunnington. Subs not used: Willis, A. Trickett.

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Bexhill United and AFC Varndeanians tussle for possession at The Polegrove. Picture by Simon Newstead

Bexhill United and AFC Varndeanians tussle for possession at The Polegrove. Picture by Simon Newstead

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