Bexhill United Football Club had to settle for a fourth place finish after losing its final game of the season.
The Pirates went down 2-1 away to Mile Oak, despite taking an early lead through Liam Foster, and dropped out of Southern Combination League Division One’s top three as a result.
Bexhill’s first league defeat of the season against a team outside the top five meant they dropped below AFC Varndeanians, who won their final fixture 4-1 at home to Hailsham Town.
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Bexhill manager Ryan Light said: “It was just a nightmare from start to finish. It was a really disappointing end to a sensational season.
“The pitch was rock hard and the wind was ridiculous at an exposed ground. We just never got going. It was one of those games where we couldn’t get our first touch and passes weren’t reaching their intended target.”
Bexhill opened the scoring almost out of the blue in the fifth minute. The ball broke to Foster, playing in the number 10 role, as he ran past the Mile Oak defence and he slotted into the bottom corner.
Light thought the goal might settle Bexhill down, but if anything it spurred Mile Oak on a little bit and they came into the game more.
Mile Oak levelled in the 11th minute. The ball went in behind Bexhill’s back line and after visiting captain Craig McFarlane missed it on the bounce, Craig Anderson went through one-on-one with Bexhill goalkeeper Dan Rose and slotted home.
Light made what he considered an innocuous comment to the referee when leaving the pitch at half time and was promptly told he wouldn’t be returning to the dugout for the second period.
From an alternative viewpoint behind the pitchside barriers, Light felt Bexhill dominated for long spells after the turnaround and were pushing for a goal, albeit without really creating anything clearcut.
Mile Oak grabbed what proved to be the winner from what originated as a Bexhill attack. The home side launched a fantastic quick break down the right and Joe Benn ran through almost unopposed before slotting past Rose for a fine solo goal.
Bexhill pushed for an equaliser, but it never really looked like coming on a day when the effort was there, but the quality wasn’t.
Bexhill: Rose; Robertson (McLean), McGuigan, McFarlane, Ottley; Shonk, Holden, J. Bunn, Foster, S. Bunn; Greenall.
Southern Combination League Division One top half final standings (all played 32 matches): 1 Alfold 80pts (+60 goal difference), 2 Steyning Town 77 (+54), 3 AFC Varndeanians 71 (+44), 4 BEXHILL UNITED 70 (+63), 5 Selsey 66 (+38), 6 Littlehampton Town 47 (+11), 7 Mile Oak 46 (+6), 8 Hailsham Town 40 (+1), 9 Wick 40 (-23).