Newhaven’s winning start to the season came to an abrupt end at Eastbourne United on Friday night. A healthy crowd turned up at the Oval – despite the wet and windy conditions – to see the top two go head to head, with both holding 100% records going in to the game.
United struck first when Mark Goodwin fired in at the back post, and then they doubled their lead soon after via a Pete Cooper penalty.
Lee Robinson got his sixth of the season when he turned in a Ryan Walton cross but United regained their two-goal advantage five minutes later through a Liam Baitup header. Cooper got a second, and the team’s fourth, before Pete Featherstone fired in from 25 yards to compound a difficult night for the Dockers.
Newhaven made two changes to the starting line-up that had beaten Little Common on Tuesday evening. Barry Knight missed out through illness so nephew Ryan moved to centre back and Louis Brown returned to the side at left back. Walton started for the first time this season, in place of the injured Dave Altendorff. New singing Naim Rouane was on the bench alongside Bradley Keith and Jason Goddard.
It was United that created the first chance of the game. Baitup, already with 8 goals in just 2 games, sent a header against the crossbar following a long throw in to the box.
The hosts, however, did take the lead after just seven minutes. Jamie Bunn sent a cross in to the box from the left and found Mark Goodwin running in at the back post. Goodwin made no mistake finding the net with his finish.
United doubled their advantage five minutes later. Baitup was sent through on goal but was caught by Scott Edwards as he tried to make a last ditch tackle. The penalty was given and the spot kick was despatched comfortably by Cooper.
The two quick goals served as a wake up call for the visitors and they started to get themselves back in to the game. Robinson sent an attempt over the bar and then had a shot saved by United goalkeeper Adam Sargent. The ball fell to Daniel Murray, who picked out Richie Watton with a cross, but his finish flew over the crossbar.
Late in the half Robinson’s cross in to the box was diverted by the wind and ended up striking the bar, with Sargent beaten. The half-time score was 2-0 but could of been 4-4.
Newhaven continued to press after the interval, looking for a way back in to the game. And they found it in the form of top-scorer Robinson. Walton done well down the left and whipped a low cross in to the box that Robinson ran on to and fired through Sargent’s legs.
Any hope of the goal unsettling the home side was dashed when they restored their two-goal lead. Cooper sent a cross in to the box and found an unmarked Baitup, who headed in his 9th goal of the season.
Walton went close at one end, and then Baitup crashed a long range strike against the crossbar at the other.
United continued to push forward and were rewarded with a fourth goal. Cooper was in the action again and his curling effort, from outside of the box, evaded Graham Leach and flew in to the Newhaven goal.
The fourth goal knocked the stuffing out of the Dockers, who were playing their third game in six days, and they were failing to create any clear cut chances.
The final goal of the game for the hosts was the best of the night. Featherstone wandered forward, got a hold of the ball and then smashed an unstoppable shot in from the best part of 30 yards that left Leach with no chance. 5-1 full-time score.
The match was a reality check for Newhaven, who now need to pick themselves up and prepare for a local derby against fellow promoted side Saltdean United on Monday (27th August).
Graham Leach, Daniel Murray, Scott Edwards, Ryan Knight, Louis Brown, Sean Breach, Mark Probert, Lee Robinson, Jason Edwards, Richie Watton (Jason Goddard), Ryan Walton (Naim Rouane).