Bexhill United up to third after 5-1 Boxing Day win

Bexhill United wide player Jack McLean dispossesses Hailsham Town full-back Andy Saunders. Pictures by Simon Newstead
Bexhill United wide player Jack McLean dispossesses Hailsham Town full-back Andy Saunders. Pictures by Simon Newstead

Bexhill United Football Club surged back into the top three on the back of a convincing Boxing Day victory.

The Pirates scored three goals in the first half and two more in the second to triumph 5-1 at home to Hailsham Town in Southern Combination League Division One.

On a mainly overcast but calm and mild morning at The Polegrove, Bexhill were two-up after 20 minutes with both goals coming from set-pieces.

See also: * Bexhill United boss: Boxing Day football has special feel to it
* Bexhill United endure three-hour round trip for no football
* Bexhill United hit 50-goal mark in home victory

The opener came in the seventh minute. Lewis McGuigan came up from the back to head home the last of three successive Jamie Bunn corners from inside the six-yard box.

The second also came from a Bunn delivery, albeit this time a free kick on the left. Hailsham goalkeeper Philip Hawkins got a fist to the ball, but could only send it in the direction of Georges Gouet, who headed into the net at the fat post.

Drew Greenall’s back header dropped just over the crossbar and Craig McFarlane fired well over from Bunn’s low corner. Bexhill had a strong penalty appeal waved away when Hailsham defender Paul Richardson dived in on Greenall at the end of a long sequence of passes.

Drew Greenall celebrates his goal with Lewis McGuigan

Drew Greenall celebrates his goal with Lewis McGuigan

Bexhill made it 3-0 with a fine goal in the 44th minute. Jack McLean did well to shake off Hailsham right-back Andy Saunders and played in the influential Greenall, who buried a tremendous finish into the far bottom corner with his less-favoured right foot.

Bexhill came flying out of the blocks at the start of the second period and Liam Foster had a low shot saved following a neat one-two with Greenall less than 40 seconds after the restart. Moments later Jack Shonk lobbed just wide following Bunn’s free kick into the box.

Bexhill further extended their lead through a wonder strike by Foster in the 49th minute. Bunn played a free kick from the home left square to Foster, who shifted the ball away from the opponent closing him down before thumping a magnificent 20-yard shot into the top corner.

Hailsham refused to throw in the towel and went on to enjoy their best spell of the match. Charlie Playford’s free kick was comfortably gathered by Bexhill goalkeeper Dan Rose, making his first save of note, before McLean fired over at the other end.

Casey Ham in the thick of the action after coming on as a substitute

Casey Ham in the thick of the action after coming on as a substitute

Hailsham pulled one back in the 73rd minute when Sam Townsend’s volley from just outside the box bounced its way into the corner of the net.

Casey Ham came off the substitutes’ bench for his first appearance since recently returning to Bexhill and his well-struck shot from McLean’s cut-back was beaten out by Hawkins.

Having been the supply line for three of Bexhill’s first four goals, Bunn got on the scoresheet himself to wrap up the scoring in the 80th minute. Bunn made a late run from midfield to volley home Shonk’s cross from near the byeline on the right.

McLean, who again caused plenty of problems for an opposing full-back, wasn’t that far away from a sixth Bexhill goal with a long range strike which flew just over.

Jack Shonk tussles with Hailsham captain Dean Stevens

Jack Shonk tussles with Hailsham captain Dean Stevens

The bumper festive crowd of 227 was Bexhill’s highest attendance of the season and the club would like to thank the public for their support.

Bexhill: Rose; Rea, McGuigan, McFarlane, Lopez; J. Bunn, Foster, Shonk; Gouet (D. Hull 83), Greenall (Ham 63), McLean. Subs not used: Ottley, J. Hull.

Southern Combination League Division One top half standings (played-points): 1 Steyning Town 18-46 (+32 goal difference), 2 Alfold 17-41 (+35), 3 BEXHILL UNITED 17-40 (+42), 4 AFC Varndeanians 17-38 (+27), 5 Selsey 17-30 (+14), 6 Littlehampton Town 18-29 (+9), 7 Seaford Town 16-28 (+2), 8 Hailsham Town 16-26 (+18), 9 Wick 17-25 (-3).