Eastbourne United 1-3 Steyning Town FC
On a bright but breezy Saturday, Town returned to league action with a tricky opening fixture away at Eastbourne Utd. With an interrupted pre-season behind Murphy’s men and buoyant from last Tuesday’s John Brown Trophy win against local reveals Upper Beeding the Barrowmen were looking to bring home 3 points for the first time on the opening day back in the top flight. Town had 6 new faces in the squad that travelled to East Sussex with the familiar face of Maychol Sabino returning to the club, he was joined by u18 graduate Andrew Younger, Austin Okolo, Marshall Darby, Ryan Doyle and new signing Josh Bradley. As the game started in the traditional Great British seaside weather of sun and wind, it was Town who looked the more comfortable on the tricky pitch and started to play the ball around nicely and on the 3rd minute should have taking the lead when a defence splitting ball from Bold found the new signing Bradley, only for the youngest to shoot straight at the home keeper.
A few more Town chances came and went with no real reply from the hosts and so it was to Towns Captain Gathern to open the scoring on the 28th minute when the ball broke in the box for the defender turned striker to swivel and smash and left foot volley into the top corner leaving the home keeper no chance, with a finish that Van Persie would have been proud of.
The second half started with Town having that strong seas wind behind them and it didn’t take long for the boy’s to double their lead when a neat piece of play between Gathern, Bennett and Howell resulted in the latter making up for an earlier miss by slotting past the on-rushing keeper to extend Towns lead and to dent any home aspirations of a quick start to the second half.
And Town didn’t let the host’s of the hook when 2 minutes later Clarke cut in from the right and smashed a thunder bolt of a left foot shot from fully 30 yards that caught the home keeper out and nestled into the bottom right corner.
Town were now cruising and started to move the ball quickly and with the hunger for more goals, started to really open up the home defence with chances for Bradley, Bennett and Howell all going spare or being thwarted by and outstanding defensive performance by the home number 2. On the hour mark, Murphy made his first change with the hard working Bennett making way for last years top scorer Cousins to come on and he immediately tested the home keeper with a neat looking lob, only for the ball to drift wide. The next change came on the 75th minute with new boy Bradley coming off and the new face of Darby came on into a slight reshuffle formation and perhaps that gave the home team a glimmer of hope as they broke down the left, crossed the ball into the Town box and after a couple of ricochets the ball sneaked under Hawkins to find the bottom left corner.
Another change for Town saw McGrath replace Howell on the 80th minute and with the home team pushing to get back into the game, Town had 2 or 3 more chance to wrap things up with Cousins going close but it ended 1-3.
A comfortable win for Town on the opening day of the season and it was good just to get back out watching live football again after so long away from the pitch. Next up for Town is a home fixture against Covid Cup finalist Loxwood on Tuesday, ko 19.45.
Hawkins, Clark, Sabino, Murphy, Fitzpatrick, Younger, Bold, Gathern, Howell, Bennett, Bradley
Subs, Cousins, Darby, McGrath, not used Okolo, Doyle