Newhaven Reserves continued their return to form on Saturday with a hard fought 2-1 win on a hard, uneven surface at Old Barn Way against Southwick.
This was the third meeting between the sides this season with the two other matches in the league and Vernon Wentworth cup ending in defeats for the Dockers. Second half goals from Barry Knight and Jack Webber ensured the Dockers got the three points.
A much changed side from the team that defeated Peacehaven Reserves two weeks ago, due to injury and player unavailability, saw a comeback after 18 months out for James Woods at left back. Also returning from holiday was Joe McTiffen at right back, and a first start since early January for Jack Webber on the right wing. Harrison Cullinane also returned in central midfield.
On the bench was Nigel Wallace and youth teamer Max Stevens with Andy Cook.
The game started slowly for the Dockers and they were under pressure in the opening exchanges. It wasn’t long before the Wickers opened the scoring when the ball was not closed down on the left and an unchallenged cross sailed deep in the penalty area and was not cleared properly falling to Ross Petts on the edge of the box who lashed it past Harry Stewart into the corner of the net (1-0).
This proved to be the wake up call the Dockers needed and they began to impose themselves and adjust to the bobbly pitch. Cullinane and Holmes started to control the midfield and Blaxall was proving a handful up front on his own. Support from the wings in Duchossoy and Webber ensured Newhaven started to play with width and provide options in attack.
Blaxall was put through by Holmes but failed to test the keeper. The same player had another chance when the defence opened up for him but his left foot shot was saved by the keeper. Then Jack Webber made a fine run in from the left onto a long throughball from Cullinane but he could not shrug off the last defender when it looked like he was through on goal.
Then ten minutes before half time the best chance fell to Blaxall in the 6 yard box when a long throw from McTiffen found its way deep into the box but Blaxall’s turn and shot was straight at the keeper. This wasn’t the last action of the half as a corner from Tom Mason was cleared back to him and his first time cross to the back post found Gary Holmes unmarked but his header was again straight at the keeper.
Not all the action was in the Wickers half however as a Dockers corner was cleared quickly by the Wickers and as they pushed up quick on the counter attack it was 3 v 2 and it required a brave effort from Stewart to come out and smother the attacker as he looked destined to score. (1-0 HT).
The Dockers continued to press in the second half and by now the midfield trio of Cullinane, Holmes and Mason were controlling the game. With the back four in little trouble Newhaven pushed down the slope. On the hour a deep free kick from Mason on the left found Barry Knight at the far post who lost his marker and guided the ball into the opposite bottom corner to level the scores. (1-1).
An enforced change then followed as Wallace had to replace the injured Cullinane in midfield. Further corners from the Dockers caused Southwick problems and Simon Blaxall then had a great chance to gain the lead when he found his way past the last defender but pulled his shot just wide of the left hand post.
However it wasn’t long before the Dockers went into the lead when a fine long throughball from Calum Burnett found the run of Webber who ran down the slope and placed his shot past the onrushing keeper (1-2).
With twenty minutes left Southwick began to push more players forward and put the Dockers defence under pressure. Harry Stewart punched away a fine cross and frantic clearances from the Dockers ensured the score stayed 1-2. Max Stevens replaced Jack Webber with ten minutes to play to give fresh legs on the left. With 2 minutes to play the Wickers rattled the Newhaven crossbar with a rocket shot from outside the box and that proved to be the last meaningful action.
An excellent away win ensured the Dockers maintained their mid table position.
Harry Stewart, Joe McTiffen, James Woods, Barry Knight, Calum Burnett, Harrison Cullinane (Nigel Wallace), Tom Mason, Gary Holmes, Jack Webber (Max Stevens), Luke Duchossoy, Simon Blaxall. Unused sub: Andy Cook