Littlehampton Town 1-4 Broadbridge Heath
Cousins hat-trick helps Bears to victory
Broadbridge Heath secured their first win in seven matches with victory over bottom of the table Littlehampton Town in gale-force conditions on Tuesday evening. With Manager Steve Painter away on business team affairs were in the hands of Steve Whiting and the Assistant Manager welcomed back Martyn Flack who missed Saturday’s draw at Arundel and Tom Frankland back from injury but he was without strikers Tiago Andrade, Tim Martin and Devon Fender so it meant a change of formation to 4.4.2 pushing George Cousins up front to play alongside Javlon Campbell.
Heath kicked off with the wind in their face playing towards the changing room end and the ball was in the back of the net inside 2 minutes when Gicu Iordache crossed from the left to Stuart Chester coming in at the far post he played the ball first time across the face of goal to an unmarked Campbell who smashed it into the net from close range, unfortunately for the Heath striker an eagle-eyed linesman had spotted an offside and the goal was disallowed.
The opening goal was scored on 19 minutes; Cousins received the ball 30 yards from goal and unleashed a right foot shot into the bottom corner of the net inches away from the outstretched left arm of Littlehampton keeper Jack Collins. Minutes later Cousins dispossessed a defender on the halfway line and exchanged passes with Campbell before hitting a right foot shot from the edge of the penalty area that Collins did well to save.
Heath continued to pressurise the home defence and scored a second minutes later when Iordache again found space down the left flank to whip a low cross into the penalty area where defender Danny Hand tried to clear with his right foot but off-balance he fell backwards and the ball sliced off his foot onto his hand, the referee deemed this a deliberate handball and Cousins stepped up to drill the spot kick into the bottom left corner.
On the half-hour mark the hosts were awarded a free kick which was launched into the Heath penalty area before being cleared by a defender but once again the referee was called across by his assistant and after consultation a penalty was awarded to the home side and Hand drilled the resulting spot kick with power straight down the middle.
Heath continued to create chances; Stuart Chester won the ball off a defender and ran through on goal before hitting a thunderbolt from 16 yards which stung the hands of Collins. Jamie Robinson linked up well with Cousins on the left to drill a shot inches wide of the right post and in the final minutes of the half Cousins struck a shot just wide of the post but it remained 2-1 at the break.
With the wind now on their backs the expectations were that Heath would further dominate play but that wasn’t the case, diagonal balls down the flanks that worked in the first half were too often running away from the forwards with the blustery conditions causing both teams problems.
The first chance didn’t arrive until midway through the half when the hosts were awarded a free kick which was pumped high into the Heath penalty area where Liam Humphries rose above defenders to power a header goal-wards forcing Michael Chester to make his first save of the game.
That seemed to spur Heath into life and minutes later Scott Weller tested Collins with a shot from distance which the keeper saved comfortably, Tom Bold split the hosts defence with a pass that allowed Campbell to run through on goal and the Heath striker placed a low shot that beat the keeper but went inches wide of goal into the side netting.
Into the final 10 minutes and Heath were almost punished for all those missed chances when Jason Jarvis found space in the penalty area to get off a shot that came off the outside of the right post.
The game was killed off with just minutes remaining and it left the home-side fuming. Scott Weller was brought down some 30 yards from goal an easy decision for the referee but a few of the home players thought otherwise and while they were making their protests to the referee Tom Bold took a quick free-kick playing the ball to Cousins, in acres of space on the edge of the penalty area, the Heath player hesitated thinking the referee would call it back but with his team-mates urging him to put the ball in the back of the net he duly obliged, knocking it wide of Collins into the net and sending his team-mates into joyous celebrations.
Deep into time added on Shaun Findlay pumped a long speculative ball forward from the back sending Campbell through on goal and the striker coolly converted to make it four and with it bringing an end to the nights proceedings.
Steve Whiting was delighted with the team’s performance, he said “The players worked really hard tonight and deserved the victory”, he had special praise for skipper Tom Bold saying “He’s been ill all week but was so determined to play that he came off his sick bed, he’s still feeling rough now but didn’t want to let the team down”. Of the third goal he said, “Tom had already asked the referee if he could take a quick free kick, so there was nothing wrong with the goal, their players switched off and we took full advantage”.
Team: M. Chester, Frankland, Robinson, Findlay, Flack, Howard-Bold, Iordache (Senra 75), Weller, S.Chester, Cousins (Griffin 88), Campbell.