Westfield's unbeaten start to the season comes to an end

Gordon Cuddington, pictured against Hollington earlier in the season, gave Westies the lead against AFC Ringmer
Gordon Cuddington, pictured against Hollington earlier in the season, gave Westies the lead against AFC Ringmer

Westfield travelled to AFC Ringmer on Friday night with both sides unbeaten at this fledging stage of the season.

With the added incentive of playing under the lights at The Caburn Ground the Westies set about their business well and dictated the early exchanges with some neat interplay and dynamic running from wide man Tom Frazer-Bates.

The early pressure soon paid dividends when Gordon Cuddington reacted quickest to a partially cleared corner hooking a cross come shot over the goalkeeper and into the far corner of the net to put the Westies 1-0 up.

The first half continued in much the same vain with debutant Ryan Cooper looking an assured presence at the back and it was Cooper’s quick thinking from a free kick that could and perhaps should have seen Westfield fashion a two goal lead.

A delightfully flighted ball down the line set Tom Frazer-Bates free on the right flank with TFB doing well to outpace the fullback and with the goalkeeper in no man’s land he squared astutely for Lee Paine to tap home into an empty net. Much to the away team’s frustration the home linesman’s flag was raised and despite exasperated protestations the goal was subsequently chalked off. With the game being filmed from the stands and the rare luxury of taking a closer inspection the replay appears to show the ball was played backwards. Nevertheless no VAR meant no goal.

Westfield weren’t perturbed by the setback and soon found themselves with another chance to go two goals to the good after Roberto Martellini was adjudged to have been fouled in the box having broken through the defence with a powerful run from deep. Up stepped captain Cuddington who saw his effort saved smartly by the goalkeeper who committed early to his right hand side. The teams headed to the changing rooms at half time with the away side a goal to the good.

Perhaps it was the psychology of shooting up the hill in the second half but Westfield’s play became increasingly disjointed and the smart link up play that was a feature of the first half was soon replaced with a more agricultural style which was also the best way to describe a couple of late challenges which saw full backs Ian May and Martyn Durrant receive deserved cautions.

With both full backs on a booking Ringmer were starting to get a foothold in the game using the slope to their advantage with a barrage of diagonal long balls, having chosen to switch ends at the coin toss it was clear they had come with a game plan. Westfield were soon made to pay for their first half profligacy but not before Ryan Harffey blazed over from 12 yards when one on one with the goalkeeper.

Industrious midfielder Rob Higgins was dispossessed in a dangerous area leaving a two on one situation at the back and a perfectly timed through ball from left to right was followed up with a smart left footed finish into the bottom right hand corner from just inside the box. With goalkeeper Jason Soan yet to make a meaningful save he found himself picking the ball forlornly from his net.

The game was turned on its head a few minutes later when it was the Westies turn to be punished for failing to defend a corner, a mishit shot found its way through a crowded box and looked to be heading wide before it was met with a smart back heeled finish at the far post.

Pleads for an offside flag fell on deaf ears and again the eagle eyed linesman was spot on with Ian May the last out and playing the attacker onside.

Any hopes of a stirring comeback were all but ended when substitute Jacob Shelton received a sin bin with seven minutes to go and in truth the hosts saw the game out without too much fuss. Lessons to be learned for a downbeat Westfield side having looked comfortable for the majority of the evening individual errors would ultimately prove costly.

Next up its back to home comforts with the visit of Rotherfield and the players will be looking to get back to winning ways immediately if the club is to harbor serious promotion ambitions.