Bexhill denied by late leveller

Bexhill United captain Craig McFarlane in action against St Francis Rangers. Picture courtesy Mark Killy
Bexhill United captain Craig McFarlane in action against St Francis Rangers. Picture courtesy Mark Killy

Bexhill United Football Club’s winning start to the season was ended by a frustrating draw on Saturday.

The Pirates conceded a late equaliser to draw 1-1 away to St Francis Rangers in Macron Store Southern Combination League Division One.

Bexhill manager Ryan Light said: “It was definitely two points dropped, an extremely frustrating afternoon. Credit to St Francis, they knew they had to make it a bit of a disjointed match and they did that excellently. They stopped the play at every opportunity and were very physical.

“We never really hit the (performance) levels we have done in the last two games (a 7-0 thrashing of Oakwood and a 1-0 win at Southwick), but we had ample chances to win that game.”

Missing the likes of Drew Greenall, Chris Rea and Corey Wheeler, Bexhill gave a first start to Lewis McGuigan at centre-half and Gordon Cuddington was pushed forward to lead the line.

Bexhill struggled to string passes together on a less than ideal surface, but showed good pace on the wings and carved out some decent opportunities, which they were unable to convert.

Bexhill United goalscorer Connor Robertson plays the ball forward. Picture courtesy Mark Killy

Bexhill United goalscorer Connor Robertson plays the ball forward. Picture courtesy Mark Killy

They did break through, however, just before the half-hour mark when defender Connor Robertson struck a lovely free kick over the wall and into the bottom corner.

Bexhill felt they would kick on from there, but there was no rhythm or flow to the game, and it was very stop-start with free kick after free kick.

The second half was largely one-way traffic, with Bexhill pushing for a second goal which wouldn’t come. Cuddington, last season’s leading scorer, twice went through one-on-one only to hit the goalkeeper’s legs.

St Francis carried little threat on the whole, but had a golden opportunity to equalise 10 minutes from time. Their jet-heeled forward was brought down in the box when sandwiched by McGuigan and Craig McFarlane, but the resulting penalty struck the post.

Bexhill United midfielder Kyle Holden gets his head to the ball. Picture courtesy Mark Killy

Bexhill United midfielder Kyle Holden gets his head to the ball. Picture courtesy Mark Killy

Bexhill regrouped and continued to look for a second goal only to be caught out in similar fashion for the equaliser just before the 90 minutes were up.

The same forward chased after a throughball and got to it just ahead of Craig Ottley before poking it under goalkeeper Dan Rose into the net, sparking scenes of jubilation among the home players.

Light was convinced Bexhill should’ve been awarded a penalty of their own in added time when he felt Nathan Lopez was shoved in the back, but the referee turned down the appeals.

“At any time if we had got that second goal, it could’ve been floodgates time,” added Light. “But the second goal didn’t come. It just wasn’t to be.”

Bexhill: Rose; Robertson, McGuigan (Gouet), McFarlane, Ottley; Holden, Lopez, Giles; Kidman, Cuddington, Barden. Sub not used: Butchers.