Newhaven’s first three games of 2014 make for a good summary of their season so far. A win, a draw and a defeat in the calendar year reflect why the Dockers currently sit 10th – bang in the middle – of the Division One table.
Having lost only once at home, this narrow 1-0 defeat at the Crowborough Community Stadium was Newhaven’s fifth on the road, and first under the management of Lee Brace and Kieran Collins.
The result, however, could have been so much different had the visitors put away any of the four good chances they created in a second half in which they were camped in the Crowborough half.
The hosts just shaded a relatively even first half, and a well taken Wayne Clarke goal separated the sides at the interval.
Newhaven pressed the Crows back in the second half but couldn’t find the killer touch, despite excellent chances for both Tyler Goatcher and Ryan Bradley.
The Dockers made four changes to the side that started the draw with Ringmer the previous week.
With Ryan Knight injured, Dan Pollard was able to make his first appearance since a one-game cameo at the start of December. There were also full debuts given to Luke Gedling, Mark Pulling and Dan Turner.
Credit must go to the Crowborough ground staff who had worked hard to get the game on, despite the heavy rainfall during Friday night.
And it was the hosts that started brightest, advancing from kick-off and forcing the Newhaven defence in to some early work.
The away side settled and started to enjoy some good possession, without really threatening Nick Collick in the home goal.
The Crows’ Michael Death sent a header wide, but the home side took the lead just short of the half hour mark. A cross came in from the left towards Callum Ridley, he laid it back for Clarke who found Buss’ left hand corner with aplomb.
Goatcher had Newhaven’s best effort of the half when he worked space on the edge of the box and hit a curling shot that was well saved by Collick.
The second half was pretty much all one-way traffic, as the Dockers pushed the home side back on to their own 18 yard line for the majority of the 45 minutes.
Goatcher had two excellent chances to find an equaliser, but he was foiled by Collick on both occasions when one-on-one.
Newhaven had to be wary of the counter-attack and were nearly caught out when a Clarke header flew narrowly over.
The Dockers continued to press and in injury time had a golden chance to earn a point. The ball fell for Bradley, six yards out, but he fired well over when it looked easier to score.
Newhaven: Jake Buss, Jayson Sowter, Shane Collins (Ryan Bradley), Luke Gedling, Conor Sidwell, Dan Pollard, Lee Robinson (Craig Bunch), Karl Akehurst, Tyler Goatcher, Mark Pulling, Dan Turner (James Rhodes).
Booked: Akehurst, Pulling, Bradley, Bunch
Referee: Martyn Milligan