Bexhill United Football Club ended 2017 on a high note with a fully deserved victory yesterday (Saturday).
Goals in the final quarter from Georges Gouet and Lewis McGuigan earned the Pirates a 2-0 win at home to a stubborn Seaford Town side in Macron Store Southern Combination League Division One.
Bexhill made two changes to their starting line-up from the Boxing Day derby against Little Common, with McGuigan and Kyle Holden returning in place of Ben Cornelius and Curtis Beale.
They also switched formation to three at the back in a game which was high on honest endeavour and meaty challenges, but for the most part fairly low on goalmouth action.
On a grey and blustery afternoon at The Polegrove, Bexhill dominated possession and territory with the wind at their backs during the first half but struggled to carve out genuine opportunities.
Seaford goalkeeper Jack Webb was only forced into a couple of saves before the break. He firstly gathered a well-struck low shot by Jack McLean at the second attempt and later dived to his left to push aside a Nathan Lopez effort from just inside the area.
Luke Woodley blasted off target from an acute angle following Gordon Cuddington’s ball across the area. At the other end, Bexhill defender Zack McEniry did well to deny Mike Baker in a dangerous position inside the home penalty box in Seaford’s best moment of the first period.
Although Bexhill played into the wind after half time, the pattern of the game remained very similar during the third quarter with the home side on the front foot and pressing for the opening goal.
It almost came within 30 seconds of the resumption. A McLean tackle put Cuddington through on goal and he stepped inside his man before seeing his shot deflected just wide.
Bexhill captain Craig McFarlane was stretchered off following a challenge with Jamie Buckett around the halfway line, so Connor Robertson came on and McGuigan took over the armband.
Woodley cut inside a defender and saw his shot spilled by Webb before being cleared to safety. Buckett had the ball in the net from a rare Seaford foray into Bexhill’s penalty box only for the offside flag to be raised.
Liam Foster pulled a left-footed shot wide after McLean’s chipped ball into the area caused problems for the Seaford defence and goalkeeper.
Bexhill finally made the breakthrough in the 74th minute. McLean’s low cross from the right was cleared only as far as Gouet, who picked out the far corner of the net with a fine finish from just inside the box.
With the wind by now having dropped, Seaford began to enjoy a sustained spell in Bexhill territory for the first time all afternoon, albeit without troubling Dan Rose in the home goal.
Bexhill wrapped up the points with a second goal in the second minute of added time. Although Cuddington was foiled by a reflex save from Webb, the resulting Woodley corner was headed home by McGuigan at the near post.
Bexhill: Rose, McEniry, Woodley, McFarlane (Robertson 54), McGuigan, Holden, Gouet, Foster, McLean (Harffey 90+5), Cuddington, Lopez (Beale 90). Subs not used: Cornelius, Giles.
Southern Combination League Division One top half (played-points): 1 LITTLE COMMON 21-55 (+53 goal difference), 2 Langney Wanderers 21-50 (+38), 3 Wick 21-44 (+34), 4 Lingfield 20-42 (+34), 5 Mile Oak 21-38 (+14), 6 BEXHILL UNITED 22-37 (+19), 7 Selsey 19-33 (+13), 8 Steyning Town 21-30 (+16), 9 Ringmer 21-30 (+9).