The Reserves made the long trip to West Chiltington to begin the clubs defence of the Sussex Intermediate Cup, which was won by the first team last season.
With a few regulars missing the squad was bolstered by the inclusion of Barry Knight, Gary Holmes and Matt Harrison. With all the regular centre backs missing Knight and Harrison lined up in the middle of the back four, Holmes partnered top scorer Damian Lambert in attack and Jack Webber made a return on the right wing. Rob Brown made his first appearance on the bench.
The game kicked off in full sunshine like every other match so far this season and it was the home side who found their feet on a pitch which sloped away from the middle towards both flanks. The Dockers were put under pressure in the first ten minutes but weathered the early storm with Knight organising the defence.
However with nearly a quarter of the game gone West Chiltington’s Craig Pulling found time and space just inside the right flank and was able to float a cross to the back post which was headed unchallenged by Gary Weedon and the ball sailed over Harry Stewart into the far corner to give the home side a 1-0 lead.
A tactical change at the back saw Joe Mctiffen swap with Harrison who moved to right back. This gave the away side a more organised look with Mctiffen winning many headers and interceptions. With this solid base the Dockers grew into the game and begun to create chances notably through excellent link up play from Whatman and Lambert on the left wing.
A great throughball from Whatman sent Lambert away but he screwed his shot past the far post. Shortly after, on 25 minutes, Newhaven equalised when Lambert’s corner was met by Whatman’s run and his header found the back of the net (1-1).
A further scare in the away side penalty area came soon after when a cross was bundled over the line but with the flag up for offside West Chiltington’s celebrations didn’t last long. The next best chance of the game came a minute before half time. Whatman played Lambert in on the edge of the box and his clever footwork played Holmes in but from just 8 yards out his shot found the keepers body rather than the back of the net. HT 1-1.
With the Dockers finishing the stronger of the two sides in the first half it was a surprise that the second half started so slowly but this set the tone for the rest of the match.
The second half was littered with Dockers mistakes and the away side could not retain possession and began to defend deeper and deeper. Eventually the home side took the lead again when an inswinging free kick from Weedon flew over the wall and in to the diving Stewarts hands but under the challenge of Pulling the ball popped out and was bundled over the line (2-1).
Liam Keith was introduced up front to try and hold the ball up but 2 soon became 3 when the Newhaven defence stepped up to play offside but a deep run from Dan Leppard wasn’t followed and the ball was calmly lobbed into the net (3-1).
With time running out the game was finally put to bed when Weedon out stripped Harrison and ran on to place the ball into the bottom corner and finish the game comprehensively 4-1.
A disappointing display by the Dockers and they will be looking to put that right when East Preston Reserves visit Fort Road next saturday in the Vernon Wentworth Cup.
Team: H Stewart, J.McTiffen, J.Tomkins (R.Brown), B.Knight, M.Harrison, T.Mason (C), B.Keith (P.Avenell), J.Webber (L.Keith), J.Whatman, G.Holmes, D.Lambert unused subs: T.Stevenson, A.Cook