Crabb sends Sidley top of Mid Sussex League - but Westfield are bottom
Nathan Crabb's second half goal was enough to see off plucky Balcombe and send Sidley back to the top of the MSFL. But it's a tough time for Westfield FC.
The Blues returned to a pitch where they suffered a heavy loss after the Covid break last season determined to put on a better showing this time around. They began well enough although the biggest talking point in the first 15 minutes was the huge tree overhanging a good part of the pitch.
Gradually Sidley got on top and looked threatening at corners particularly with Zac McEniry and Steve Hickman going close and another good ball in from Lee Carey going begging. Balcombe's best moment came when goalkeeper Phil Hawkins picked up a backpass and an indirect free kick was given inside the area but Sidley defended it well.
Into the second half, the game was an even affair with neither goalkeeper overly tested until Crabb broke the deadlock on 57 minutes when he reacted quickest to a lofted clearance to get in on goal on the right and, despite getting a foot to his powerful low strike, the Balcombe goalkeeper could only help the ball into the roof of the net.
Balcombe came further forward after this with Sidley resolved to defend well and try to wrap up the game on the break. Man of the Match Crabb almost sealed it when he was played in on goal by Paul Rogers but this time his low strike just passed the far post.
The home side applied late pressure with some long throws into the Sidley area but the defence held firm for a welcome clean sheet to go along with the three points. They return to the top of the table and are without a match next weekend.
Sidley: Hawkins, Walker, McEniry, Featherstone, Hickman, Ellis, Baldwin, Carey, Cumming-Bart, N Crabb, Rogers. Subs: Trickett, Elphick, Elliott-Noye, McCue.
Westfield slipped to the foot of the MSFL premier after a fourth defeat in five matches, going down 3.2 to Rotherfield.. It was a game they didn’t deserve to lose, however luck was firmly once again against them.
Westfield Manager Mark Stapley gave full debuts to new signing Thomas Marshall in goal and winger Musa Camara. Rotherfield started brightly, pressing high and forcing Westfield to go long from the back. The first real chance fell to Westfield on the break, as Joe Dicken clipped a good ball over the full backs head. Josh Pickering couldn’t get over the ball on the volley and it ended up well over the bar. Rotherfield did eventually take the lead, poor marking at a corner left the Rotherfield winger a free shot from eight yards and he duly smashed it into the top corner.
This woke Westfield up and the game turned on its head. Rotherfield sat back and the Westies probed and pressed. A chance came and went for Warren Pethig and a Musa Camara volley bought out the save of the match from the Rotherfield keeper.
Finally the pressure told as Warren Perhig turned the full back inside out, only to have his ankles clipped. The referee pointed to the spot, Westfield top scorer Josh Pickering stepped up and guided it perfectly into the bottom corner.
The second half started how the first finished, with Westfield on top. Camara soon had a goal dissallowed for offside. Westies however then took the lead from an under hit back pass that Pickering picked up, rounded the keeper and swept home.
Woodley, Maclean, Moir and Davies replaced Farrance, Durrant, Camara & Giles. it was Moir who should have won it for Westfield with injury time looming after great work from Ferguson. The effort however was scuffed wide. The inevitable then happened, Rotherfield equalised in injury time.
Rotherfield then won it with a wonder strike from 25 yards in the 94th minute, Westfield will feel hard done by as there was a clear foul in the build up on Ian May. This wasn’t picked up, but no one could take take anything away from the brilliant strike.
Man of the match - Musa Camara
Chairman jack Stapley felt it was a bitter pill to swallow. “For 15 minutes in each half we dominated the game and we were comfortable. But when your down at the bottom you have to find a way to get over the line. We couldn’t do that today and it’s frustrating, but the performance was there. I have no doubt we will turn results around as this group are far too good not to. We need a scrappy 1-0 to get us started.
Westfield: Marshall, May, Durrant, Winter, Dicken, Ferguson, Farrance, Pethig, Giles, Camara, Pickering - Subs Moir, Davies, Maclean, Woodley, Wilson.