Bexhill United Football Club manager Ryan Light said he was proud of his players after being beaten in the county’s premier knockout competition.
Macron Store Southern Combination Football League Division One side Bexhill lost 3-0 away to top half Premier Division team Broadbridge Heath in round one of the Parafix Sussex Senior Challenge Cup on Tuesday night.
Light said: “I was really proud of the lads. All I could do was thank them for their commitment. It was a 120-mile round trip, people have left work early, got home at midnight and they really did the club proud with their commitment and the performance they put on. They certainly didn’t disgrace themselves and for long spells we were competing well.”
Bexhill made the long journey to the west of Horsham with just 12 players and one of those, Craig Ottley, wasn’t fit. They gave a debut to Ben Cornelius, from Hastings United’s development squad, and he performed very well at right-back.
A well-organised and physically strong Broadbridge Heath side started very confidently and were popping the ball around nicely, with Bexhill looking a bit like rabbits in the headlights.
Heath went ahead when their lightning-quick number nine got in between Bexhill’s centre-half and full-back and drilled the ball across the six yard line. Lewis McGuigan threw himself in there to block it and was unfortunate to see the ball ricochet into the net.
The goal seemed to spark Bexhill into life a bit life, though, and the rest of the first half was fairly even, with the midfield area tightening up.
Heath upped their game during the first 10 minutes of the second half and left Bexhill standing somewhat, but their second goal was fortunate. A shot from 25 yards took a wicked deflection off the backside of Craig McFarlane and went just beyond the reach of goalkeeper Dan Rose.
That goal rather took the wind out of Bexhill and they looked a bit leggy after that. That said, they defended well and Rose was excellent in goal.
Heath added a third goal when their number nine, who caused plenty of problems, drilled another ball across goal. Cornelius slid in to try and deal with it, but the ball stopped a yard out and George Cosins had a tap in.
Bexhill’s best moment of the night was a free kick from dead ball specialist Kenny Butchers which struck the top of the crossbar.
“The goals were really unfortunate for us, but they were the better side on the night and were good value for their win,” added Light.
Bexhill: Rose; Cornelius, McGuigan, McFarlane, Butchers; Gouet, Lopez, Harffey, Wheeler; Kidman; Barden. Sub not used: Ottley.