A lacklustre first half performance cost the Dockers dearly on Saturday as inconsistency crept in again.
After last weeks excellent cup win at Loxwood, Newhaven went into the match in confident mood. There were three changes to the line up with Matt Harrison and Barry Knight coming in for the unavailable skipper Paul O’Donnell and Bradley Keith dropping to the bench, and Dan Breach replacing the unavailable Harry Stewart in goal.
The Dockers should have been one up inside the first two minutes when the ball was played into James Whatman in the penalty area who had time and space to score but his touch let him down and the chance went.
An enforced substitution then came soon after when Liam Keith limped off with a hamstring injury to be replaced by Rob Brown. Another chance then fell to Damian Lambert in the box but his wayward first time shot sailed high and wide when he had time to control the ball and place his shot.
Then against the run of play on 20 minutes Lambert lost the ball in midfield and the Hailsham left winger carried the ball into the area and his cross shot ended up in the far corner of the net to give the Stringers a 1-0 lead.
This knocked the Dockers back and for the remaining 25 minutes of the half were struggling to compete and retain possession. Dan Breach was called into action before half time and made two excellent saves to keep the Dockers in it.
A stern half time team talk from Cook and Knight brought an improved response in the second half. The back four stood strong with Breach largely untroubled and further chances were created at the other end.
Two further enforced changes brought Bradley Keith and Jack Webber into the action replacing Josh Tomkins and Simon Blaxall. Lambert had a glorious chance to equalise when he found himself played in in the box and had time to pick his spot but managed to guide the ball the wrong side of the post.
Then a backpass by the Hailsham defence which was handled by the keeper presented another chance when the referee awarded a free kick 12 yards out. The ball was touched to Doherty who fired high over the crossbar.
Shortly after the only Dockers cross of the game from Whatman whipped across the 6 yard box but evaded everyone and then with minutes to play Webber was put through one on one with the keeper but smashed his shot over the bar when he looked destined to equalise.
A disappointing league defeat overall. Next Saturday sees the Reserves travel to Old Barn Way to play Southwick Reserves in the Vernon Wentworth Cup.
Team: Dan Breach, Matt Harrison, Josh Tomkins (Bradley Keith), Joe Mctiffen, Barry Knight, Tom Mason (c), Kieran Doherty, Simon Blaxall (Jack Webber), James Whatman, Damian Lambert, Liam Keith (Rob Brown). Unused sub: Andy Cook