Derby clash a chance to show our progress, says Bexhill boss

Action from the reverse fixture between Bexhill United and Langney Wanderers at the end of September. Picture by Simon Newstead
Action from the reverse fixture between Bexhill United and Langney Wanderers at the end of September. Picture by Simon Newstead

Bexhill United manager Ryan Light is viewing a clash against the league’s highest scorers as a chance to show how much the football club has progressed.

The Pirates will visit free-scoring Macron Store Southern Combination League Division One high-flyers Langney Wanderers - a team they’ve lost their last four meetings with - tomorrow (Saturday).

Light said: “I think we’ve made massive strides as a football team and as a club. On and off the pitch we’ve really got our act together this season, and I would like to show how far we’ve come.

“They’ve been a bit of a bogey side since I’ve been at Bexhill with four victories against us - and to be fair we’ve been well beaten in the league games we’ve played against them. I would like us to put on a better show than we have.”

Langney are second in the table - seven points behind Little Common with a game in hand - and are the highest scorers in the entire league with 96 goals in 26 matches.

They’ve won eight of their last nine contests in all competitions, the latest of which was a remarkable 11-2 thrashing of Storrington a fortnight ago. Langney also triumphed 4-2 against 10-man Bexhill in September’s reverse fixture.

“I think we’ve progressed as a side since we played them last,” continued Light. “I think we played a lot of that game with 10 men and we made a couple of errors.

“The way they attack is quite phenomenal for this level of football, they’re so quick on the transition.

“We know they’re a very, very good side and the league table backs that up. They’re a county Premier Division outfit - I think them and Little Common would give most teams in the division above a game.

“We know we’re going to have to be as good as we were at Wick (where Bexhill pulled off a tremendous 5-1 victory on January 27). If we play like that, I don’t think there’s many sides in county league football that are going to beat us.

“If we’re going to win the game, we’re going to have to be defensively sound. Try and make it not an open game if you like; we don’t want it to be like a game of basketball.

“We definitely won’t leave ourselves open. I wouldn’t imagine we’ll change too much system-wise, but we’ve got to make sure we’re nice and organised, and work hard to get back into shape when we lose possession.

“If we can keep our discipline in terms of our shape and play our football when we get the ball, on the ball I think we’re a match for any side in our division.

“A clean sheet would be our aim, but not many teams go there and keep a clean sheet. It’s a real test and we’re under no illusions as to how difficult it is.”

Langney have won 11 and drawn one of their 12 home league fixtures so far this term on the 3G pitch at Eastbourne Borough FC.

Bexhill are sixth in the table - just two points outside the top four - having already gone past their points total in the whole of last season.

“It’s a game to really look forward to with the fantastic facilities on offer at Eastbourne Borough,” Light went on. “With the players we’ve got, we’re capable of beating anyone in the division. We’ve not matched the consistency of the top two - or three with Lingfield as well.

“We’re still chasing the fourth place and we want to be in the FA Cup next year. It’s usually around the early 60 (points) mark to get in (the FA Cup) and we want to achieve that.”

Bexhill, who were without a fixture last weekend, expect to be close to or at full strength for a game which will get underway from 3pm at Priory Lane.

Southern Combination League Division One top half (played-points): 1 LITTLE COMMON 27-70 (+65 goal difference), 2 Langney Wanderers 26-63 (+56), 3 Lingfield 26-58 (+46), 4 Ringmer 27-48 (+18), 5 Wick 25-47 (+30), 6 BEXHILL UNITED 27-46 (+23), 6 7 Mile Oak 27-44 (+7), 8 Selsey 25-40 (+9), 9 Hailsham Town 25-38 (+1).

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