Report by Dave Ewing
SCFL Div 1 Cup Quarter final: Hailsham vs Godalming 26/03/22
South Coast Deception
Godalming contended 4 cups this season but had already exited 3 leaving this was our last chance to claim any silverware. On paper it looked like we had a good chance as Hailsham languishing near the bottom of the league. We had beaten then in our two previous league matches with Fruddy scoring each time. What could possibly go wrong?
Well a few things as it turned out. Like our expectations, this was a day where nothing was quite as it seemed. The deception started with the postcode for the ground. There is a lovely residential cul-de-sac in Hailsham called Bramble Drive. Bramble Drive offers no direct access to the Beaconsfiled ground nor does it offer any easy on street parking. Indeed Bramble Drive is separated from the ground by a fence and a deep ditch and short of buying a bungalow with its own driveway parking was impossible. Yet this was the postcode location for the ground. Car after car swung into Bramble Drive, crawled round and sheepishly left to search for parking elsewhere.
The next deception involved scarves. Once found, the ground was pleasant enough and I was impressed by the size of the Godalming following. I walked about nodding and smiling at loads of fans sporting green and yellow scarves. Some were familiar faces but others seemed new. I nodded encouragingly at a father and son, sharing a little “come on you Gees” moment only to realise that they were in fact supporting the opposition. Hailsham, rather unsportingly, use the same yellow and green scarf colours we do making it impossible to tell friend from foe.
At least the weather was pleasant. Perfect for football. Or at least that’s how it seemed at pitch side. Yet this too was illusory. Any ball that made it above head height was subject to a strong and gusty North Easterly that proved tricky for all the players to read. The sunshine and wind had also dried the sandy pitch bone dry leaving it bobbly and bouncy, like the surface of a flat golf ball.
The game started at a brisk pace with Godalming having the better of the play. However 12 minutes in disaster struck as a misjudged Godalming clearance deflected of Cam’s leg cutting across the goal to take a final glance of a Hailsham player leaving Adrian Giles no chance. The home side were ahead more by luck than any great football
A misjudgement caused the goal but it was not a one off. Misjudgements quickly became endemic. The wind, the hard pitch, the zeal of the bounce made things difficult for both visitors and home team. The game was played at a frenetic stop start pace with little proper football on show. It was non-league Saturday and I did wonder what any rogue Brighton fan would have made of it (their last two home games had been against Liverpool and Spurs..) Hailsham had a couple of shots from range that drifted wide and Godalming had moments of good play with Elijah Carter ( who came on for the injured Jon Cousins) showing some great touches. But stringing passages of play together proved difficult.
The second half started in a similar vein. It felt like conditions 1, football 0. Hailsham should have put the tie to bed when they broke clean through and contrived to hit a shot on open goal off the post and scuff the several rebounded chances that followed. As the half wore on Godalming started to control the game better and create some sustained pressure. The best chance fell to Charlie who slipped past the Hailsham defence and took a decent shot that was blocked by the keeper. As we approached full time it felt that the early goal was going to be enough. However in the second minute of injury time a Hailsham mistake caused by a misjudged back flick header bounced off the crossbar to be bundled in by Cam for an unexpected equaliser.
The prospect of penalties loomed but lasted only a minute. A quick kick off followed by a foul on half way saw Hailsham use the wind to guide a long range effort over Adrian’s head and into the goal. This was indeed the final deception. Godalming lost 2-1.
Were we robbed? Not really. Hailsham probably managed the conditions better and kept the ball away from their 18 yard box more effectively than Godalming. The conditions meant that both teams struggled to play good football. Even the fans were not robbed as such. The sun did shine, we did see 105 spectators all wearing yellow and green and all the gate receipts from the day, totalling £367.50, were donated to the DEC Ukraine Humanitarian appeal. As for silverware, that will have to wait till next season.
Raymond Bishop, Jane Phillips and 2 others