Season review

Season review

By Craig Pulling
19 May 2015
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Season Review

First of all apologies for the lack of content over the past 6 months – Work and family commitments have been too much. Hopefully we will be better next season (just like our football).

Overall, it has been an average season for the first team. We actually gained one point more than the 2013-2014 season but finished two places lower in the league (4th in 2013-2014 and 6th in 2014-2015).

Pre-season bought a few new faces but most of these disappeared after only a few games. When the season began, we started very slowly in the league with a 2-2 draw at Hunston on the opening day of the season, followed by a 2-0 defeat away at Newtown Villa. We then had two easy victories in the cup where we scored 24 goals in 2 games. The 3-2 defeat at home to Upper Beeding was a very good game, with some great football being played by both teams. Next up was a defeat on penalties to Predators in the Malcolm Simmonds cup who eventually went on to win the competition. We were actually 2 minutes away from winning this game – fine margins!

We lost to Ockley at the beginning of November with a very depleted team, however I was very impressed with them and thought they had the potential to win the league. We had a good win against Portslade Athletic in the Sussex Intermediate Cup with our regular linesman Gavin Barclay having to officiate the game after a no show from the referee. The game was played in a good manner and it was one of the best refereeing performances of the season. A goal conceded in the last 5 minutes at home to Predators in early December meant that we still hadn’t won a league game. It took until just before Xmas for us to record our first victory in the league. A 3-2 home victory v Holbrook ,which easily could have gone the other way with Craig Dawson saving two penalties.

At the fifth attempt our Sussex Intermediate cup game against County league Rottingdean finally got played in January. One of our best performances of the season in a comfortable 3-0 win. However the game was marred by a injuries to both Ryan Ashley and Dan Leppard. Ryan suffered a broken leg and would miss the rest of the season. He had been in excellent form up until that point. Dan Leppard missed the following two months due to ankle ligament damage.
Two weeks later we went out of the Sussex Intermediate Cup following a dismal performance away at Lavant.

March began with a frustrating draw at Holbrook in a game where we had enough chances to claim all three points. The game was a bit of a farce due to some bizarre refereeing – 7 yard walls for free kicks for some reason!! We had a tough game against Lancing United the following week in the Centenary Cup but managed to squeeze through 3-2. Credit should be given to Lancing United for the work they have done at Crowshaw, massive improvements to the facilities.

Next up was Cowfold in the league at home. A good 3-2 victory here after going behind 1-0. However, this was followed by a disappointing performance against Nyetimber Pirates sent us out of the Centenary Cup. Although we were missing quite a few players, we still had a strong enough squad to win this game but in reality we created very few opportunities. Nyetimber will be a good acquisition to the WSFL Premier next season.

One of our finest games of the season came at home to Ockley just after Easter, where we defeated the champions to be 4-0 in a comfortable win. We had certainly learnt a lot from our defeat at their place and our game plan worked to perfection. Gary Weedon with a hat-trick in this game. We had a mixture of results towards the end of season, a very poor performance at Predators meant we lost three times (once on penalties) to them over the course of the season. We had good wins at home to Henfield (6-1) and Newtown Villa (5-1) and finally an away in the league win at Faygate (1-0). We lost twice in a week to Lavant (another team we lost to three times over the season), one was probably deserved, the other was not. The season ended with a very entertaining game at Cowfold where we recorded a 5-3 victory.

So overall, a very mixed season. Our away form cost us dear this season – we went out of all three cups in defeats away from home and only picked up three away wins in the league (Wittering by default, Cowfold and Faygate). Last season we actually picked up more points away from home, so hopefully our away form will change next season. The other disappointment was a failure to win any of our midweek evening fixtures (the same happened in 2013-2014).

Congratulations to Ockley for winning the WSFL Premier. They bounced back from the defeat to us extremely well and had some excellent results towards the end of the season. Also, congratulations to Predators who won both the Centenary Cup and the Malcolm Simmonds Cup within three days.

Goodbye to Cowfold and Upper Beeding who enter the county league next season. They are well run clubs and will be missed by the WSFL. I will also miss the lengthy Cowfold match reports when they win and the much more concise match reports when they lose – sorry it had to be said (at least you write them though)! The Upper Beeding website will definitely be missed, lots of good content.

Highlights of the season

New facilities – We are so pleased with the new facilities at West Chiltington and many clubs have commented positively on them. Thank you to all the clubs who stay behind and enjoy a bacon roll and a beer after the game.

Beer and a bond – The beer and a bond sessions after every game have been brilliant. Most players have stayed behind and contributed to the ‘fines pot’. These things build a positive club atmosphere.

Strength in depth –From March onwards we had many games to play in a very short time but we managed to get a strong squad out for most games. I feel we now have real strength in depth if all the players stay with us for next season. Matt Langley had a tremendous finish to the season alongside Sean Holt at centre half. We also looked particularly strong when Paul McCafferty was available, he is probably the closest we have come to a replacement for West Chilt legend Tom Freeman on the left wing. His decision making of when to stay wide and when to come infield is excellent and he has scored and created many goals for us.

The return of Ryan Ashley – Ryan returned to the club after a brief stint at Upper Beeding and was back to his best before his unfortunate injury.

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