Bexhill United Football Club threatened to pull off a cup upset before fading to defeat last night (Tuesday).
Southern Combination League Division One side Bexhill were 2-0 up at half time in their Peter Bentley Challenge Cup second round tie away to Premier Division team Hassocks, but conceded three times after the break to lose 3-2.
Bexhill manager Ryan Light said: “The first half was excellent, second half we lost our way a bit.”
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Light felt Bexhill were as disciplined as they’ve been all season during the opening period. Having spoken beforehand about keeping a better shape and being a bit more compact, Bexhill executed those areas of focus fantastically well and restricted Hassocks to shots from outside the area.
When in possession, Bexhill’s passing and interchanges were of real quality, and they fashioned opportunities from just about every attack.
They opened the scoring, for the first time this season, with a well-worked goal after 15 minutes. Nathan Lopez delivered a lovely cross from the right which Hassocks could only clear as far as Jamie Bunn, who smashed the ball into the roof of the net.
When Hassocks went long, Bexhill centre-halves Zack McEniry and Lewis McGuigan dealt with it. And when they went short, Wayne Giles, Jack Shonk and Lopez were snapping at their heels.
With the gameplan working extremely well, Bexhill doubled their advantage. A short corner was played to Giles, who turned and then clipped a lovely shot in off the far post.
Light was delighted with Bexhill’s first half display, but the game changed completely after the break. Hassocks started the second half brightly and Light felt Bexhill allowed themselves ‘to get caught up in the chaos of what the officials were causing’.
He said: “We really lost our focus and the gameplan seemed to go out the window. Big holes were opening up for Hassocks to carve us open and they did.”
Hassocks pulled one back with a goal from a free kick given when Chris Rea was booked for what Light considered a ‘fantastic tackle’. The free kick was played into the box and knocked down for James Littlejohn to score.
Bexhill lost their way a little bit thereafter and were nowhere near their first half performance levels. Daniel Jacques got the equaliser that Hassocks had been pushing for and after that it seemed there was only going to be one winner.
It duly came when Philip Johnson went through one-on-one with Bexhill goalkeeper Dan Rose and finished into the bottom corner.
Bexhill: Rose; Robertson, McGuigan, McEniry, Rea; Holden, J. Bunn, S. Bunn; Lopez, Giles, Shonk. Subs used: McLean, Harley.