In weather best suited for staying indoors watching Christmas films, Hollington United Football Club’s first team achieved a superb result on Saturday.
The Lions recovered from conceding in the first minute to win 6-1 away to fellow Mid Sussex League Premier Division high-flyers Balcombe in the last 16 of the Sussex Intermediate Challenge Cup.
Hollington manager Scott Price said: “I couldn’t be any prouder of this group of players. You could argue that it was the most complete performance in the two-and-a-half years I’ve been at the club.
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“Again with players missing including Dommy Clarke, who is our only recognised striker, we had to change the way we played.
“The front three were quality today, they looked like they’d played together all season. The work rate on and off the ball, matched with the quality in the final third today, made a very wet and cold day very enjoyable.”
After narrowly losing to Balcombe in the league a few weeks earlier through a bizarre own goal, Hollington were expecting a tough game.
With four key players missing and no recognised centre-forward, the Lions were forced into playing a completely different formation.
The question of how quickly could they react was answered after 30 seconds when Hollington found themselves 1-0 down.
Not exactly ideal, but within two minutes, superb work on the left by Allan McMinigal set up Dan Kearley to slide in an equaliser.
The Lions started to settle and create chances with the front three of Kian Moynes, Kearley and McMinigal causing the Balcombe defence all sorts of problems.
The pressure finally told when Alan Foster rifled home from the the edge of the box to give Hollington a 2-1 half time lead.
The second half started the way the first had finished, with the Lions on the front foot and having the majority of the ball.
United finally got their reward when a Ross Southwood free kick found the head of Danny Andrews to make 3-1 in the 60th minute.
Once again Hollington’s trust in youth was shown as Samuel Scott and Finlay Page were introduced. And Scott, after been found by Jan Bailey, crossed for Foster to tap home.
Four soon became five as McMinigal delivered a cross to Scott, who kept his composure to score his first goal for the club.
The Lions even had time for another goal and what a goal it was. It was made by Page and Scott, and finished by fans’ favourite Ricky Martin, who struck a shot from fully 35 yards straight into the top corner.
A superb win for the Lions, who now face a local derby against Sedlescombe Rangers in the quarter-finals. The man of the match, sponsored by The Duke pub, was Jan Bailey.