Bexhill United began their season with a 7-2 defeat in a bizarre and hugely eventful nine-goal contest away to Oakwood on Saturday.
The Pirates had two penalties saved in a Macron Store Southern Combination Football League Division One match which ended nine-a-side after both teams had two players sent-off.
Bexhill manager Marc Munday said: “The whole game was bizarre and I’m not taking too much disappointment from it because it was a freak result. The only thing I was really disappointed with was a couple of goals from set-pieces.”
Although Oakwood hit the post inside 30 seconds on a roasting hot afternoon, Bexhill dominated the opening half-hour and drew first blood on four minutes. Chris Cumming-Bart scored with a fantastic free kick into the bottom corner.
With Jack Aston and Jack Woodward dominating the midfield, Bexhill were playing all the football on a lovely surface and looking strong until one controversial incident changed the game.
Bexhill defender Dan Cruikshank shielded the ball out of play only to be felled by an Oakwood opponent, who remained on top of him for several seconds, sparking a melee involving players from both sides.
The whole game was bizarre and I’m not taking too much disappointment from it because it was a freak result.Marc Munday
The referee initially sent-off Josh Elliott-Noye before realising his mistake and recalling the Bexhill defender. He then dismissed the Oakwood player who made the initial challenge before also showing the red card to Cruikshank and Bexhill goalkeeper Yankuba Camara.
“We couldn’t believe it,” continued Munday. “For me the only person that needed sending-off or booking was their bloke. It looked like Dan was pinned down and in the melee Yani pulled the bloke off Dan.”
George Aston, usually a defender, took over the goalkeeper’s gloves and despite being a man down, Bexhill had a glorious chance to double their advantage.
Cumming-Bart was clean through when he was taken out by the last defender - who escaped with a yellow card - and the Bexhill midfielder’s resulting penalty was well saved by the goalkeeper.
Moments later Oakwood went down the other end to equalise and the hosts struck twice more before half time to turn a 1-0 deficit into a 3-1 lead.
Oakwood netted three more times after the break before Bexhill pulled one back on 81 minutes courtesy of a terrific left-foot strike by substitute Nathan Tudor.
The home side then netted its seventh, but the drama didn’t end there because Oakwood had a second player sent-off for handling a Cumming-Bart shot on the line. Cumming-Bart again saw the resulting penalty superbly saved, this time to the goalkeeper’s left.
“The boys worked hard and for me it (the score) wasn’t a true reflection of that game,” added Munday. “I don’t like excuses and if I thought they battered us I would say, but their manager came up to our lads and said ‘I’m not going to take anything from that game - you were the better side for half-an-hour with 11 men and the referee ruined the game’.”
Bexhill: Camara, Cooper, Ottley, Elliott-Noye, Cruikshank, J. Aston, Garman (N. Tudor), Woodward, Barden (G. Aston), Cumming-Bart, Wheeler (Phipps). Subs not used: Buay, A. Tudor.
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