Bexhill United’s top two hopes end despite victory

Bexhill United celebrate their second goal in the 2-0 win away to Hailsham Town. Picture by Simon Newstead
Bexhill United celebrate their second goal in the 2-0 win away to Hailsham Town. Picture by Simon Newstead

Bexhill United Football Club’s hopes of finishing in a promotion position are over despite winning on Easter Monday.

First half goals from Jack Shonk and Drew Greenall gave the Pirates a fairly straightforward 2-0 victory away to Hailsham Town in Southern Combination League Division One.

But with Steyning Town winning 4-0 away to Worthing United at the same time, Bexhill now cannot finish in the top two despite topping the division’s scoring charts and possessing the best goal difference.

See also: * Bexhill United boss: Thrilling game belonged at a higher level
* Bexhill United pegged back in dramatic second versus third clash
* Steyning Town versus Bexhill United in pictures
* 10-man Little Common avoid relegation after 4-1 derby win

On a sunny and very warm morning at The Beaconsfield, Bexhill laid the foundations for their 22nd league victory of the season with two good goals during an otherwise fairly tight first half.

Shonk opened the scoring shortly before the half-hour with a spectacular 25-yard free kick into the top corner from slightly to the right of goal. It was Shonk’s 23rd league goal of the season - the second most of anybody in the division.

Shonk went from scorer to provider of the second goal on the stroke of half time. A long kick from Bexhill goalkeeper Dan Rose was flicked on by Greenall and Andy Atkin before Shonk played a neat ball through for Greenall to score with a low left-footed shot.

Apart from the goals, Shonk flashed a powerful 25-yard drive just wide after getting away from a pair of opponents and Jamie Bunn’s shot from outside the box was fairly comfortably saved. At the other end, Connor Townsend’s goalbound shot was blocked by Craig Ottley.

Although Hailsham goalkeeper Phil Hawkins made a smothering stop at the feet of Greenall early in the second period, the hosts enjoyed their best spell of the match during the third quarter.

Rose made a smart save from Scott Taylor at his near post as Bexhill were caught out by a quick free kick and Joey Pout glanced just wide of the far post from the resulting corner.

Taylor, now just behind Shonk in the scoring charts, fired wide from outside the box before Sammy Townsend’s far post header from a Dean Stevens free kick was pushed aside by Rose.

Bexhill then gained control of the play and were very comfortable during the final quarter as they secured their 22nd win in 31 league outings this season.

Wayne Giles, back in a Bexhill shirt and on as a substitute for Atkin, looked set to make it 3-0 as he bore down on goal after Shonk flicked on Rose’s long goal kick only to be thwarted by Paul Richardson’s brilliant last ditch tackle.

Jamie Bunn, playing through an injury, flashed a well-struck shot just wide from outside the box and Giles drove wide of the near post from the right-hand side in added time.

Bexhill: Rose; Holden, McGuigan, McFarlane, Ottley; Shonk, J. Bunn, Foster, S. Bunn; Greenall, Atkin (Giles 79).

Southern Combination League Division One top half standings (played-points): 1 Alfold 31-77 (+59 goal difference), 2 Steyning Town 31-74 (+52), 3 BEXHILL UNITED 31-70 (+64), 4 AFC Varndeanians 31-68 (+41), 5 Selsey 31-63 (+35), 6 Littlehampton Town 31-47 (+13), 7 Mile Oak 31-43 (+5), 8 Hailsham Town 31-40 (+4), 9 Sidlesham 31-37 (-15).