Bexhill United overturn half time deficit to beat Mile Oak

Liam Foster on the ball during Bexhill United's 2-1 win at home to Mile Oak this afternoon. Pictures by Simon Newstead
Liam Foster on the ball during Bexhill United's 2-1 win at home to Mile Oak this afternoon. Pictures by Simon Newstead

Bexhill United Football Club overturned a half time deficit to end 2018 with a victory today (Saturday).

Second half strikes by Jack McLean and Sammy Bunn gave the Pirates a hard-fought 2-1 win at home to Mile Oak in Southern Combination League Division One.

Jack McLean, scorer of Bexhill United's first goal and provider of the second, in possession

Jack McLean, scorer of Bexhill United's first goal and provider of the second, in possession

The result kept Bexhill third in the table and preserved their proud record of not having a single point against teams outside the division’s top five all season.

See also: * Bexhill United boss: As well as we’ve played at home all season
* Bexhill United up to third after 5-1 Boxing Day win
* Bexhill United endure three-hour round trip for no football
* Bexhill United hit 50-goal mark in home victory

Bexhill manager Ryan Light made two changes to his starting line-up from the 5-1 success at home to Hailsham Town on Boxing Day.

Casey Ham made his first start up-front in place of the absent Drew Greenall, while Kyle Holden returned from suspension in midfield with Jack Shonk reverting to the right-hand side and Georges Gouet dropping to the bench.

Having enjoyed a terrific first half against Hailsham three days previously, Bexhill were well below par during a frustrating opening period against Mile Oak.

Bexhill United midfielder Jamie Bunn prepares to compete for an aerial ball

Bexhill United midfielder Jamie Bunn prepares to compete for an aerial ball

The closest either side came in the first half-an-hour was when Mile Oak’s Michael Gould turned a Nathan Lopez cross into the side-netting.

McLean’s deflected shot after Oak failed to clear a Ham cross was held by away goalkeeper Aaron Stenning shortly before the visitors took a 36th minute lead. Gould’s cross from a free kick on the away right was brilliantly headed into the bottom corner by Darryl Livesey.

Bexhill responded well to falling behind and were on the front foot for the rest of the first half. Ham blazed well over having been played in by a good ball from Shonk, while McLean cut in from the left and drove a low shot into the side-netting.

The home side was quick out of the blocks at the start of the second period and Ham had the ball in the net following McLean’s drive into the box only for the offside flag to be raised.

Kyle Holden turns the ball inside

Kyle Holden turns the ball inside

Ham then had a great chance to equalise when a Nathan Lopez shot deflected nicely into his path, but his finish was weak and was comfortably saved. Jamie Bunn was whiskers away from getting on the end of McLean’s inviting ball across goal.

Bexhill made a double substitution on the hour, bringing on Gouet and Sammy Bunn for Ham and Chris Rea, with Shonk moving into the central striker’s role and Holden switching to right-back.

They seemed certain to equalise when Jamie Bunn’s low corner from the left made its way through to Craig McFarlane, but his shot was superbly saved by Stenning.

With Bexhill applying almost constant pressure, it seemed only a matter of time before they would break through and they finally did in the 72nd minute.

Shonk played a neat short pass through to McLean, who cleverly stepped inside his man and buried his shot into the bottom corner.

The momentum was very much with Bexhill and it seemed there was only going to be one winner. Lopez shot wide of the far post from McLean’s cut-back shortly before the all-important second goal arrived in the 82nd minute.

The consistently impressive McLean skipped past Jack Marriott on the Bexhill left and got to the byeline before his ball across goal fell to the feet of Sammy Bunn, who drove into the bottom corner from around 10 yards - much to the obvious delight of his team-mates.

Having spent the vast majority of the second half defending, Oak tried to muster up some attacking threat during the time that remained. But Bexhill saw the game out with few alarms to record their 14th win in 18 league matches.

Bexhill: Rose; Rea (S. Bunn 60), McGuigan, McFarlane, Lopez; Holden, J. Bunn, Foster; Shonk, Ham (Gouet 61), McLean. Subs not used: Robertson, Ottley.

Southern Combination League Division One top half standings (played-points): 1 Steyning Town 19-49 (+33 goal difference), 2 Alfold 18-44 (+38), 3 BEXHILL UNITED 18-43 (+43), 4 AFC Varndeanians 18-38 (+26), 5 Selsey 18-33 (+19), 6 Seaford Town 17-31 (+3), 7 Hailsham Town 17-29 (+19), 8 Littlehampton Town 19-29 (+8), 9 Wick 18-25 (-5).