STCFC 0 – 5 Eastbourne Town
After a 30 year absence from the Sussex top flight there was no warm welcome back for Steyning Town, as they were given an opening day thumping by an impressive Eastbourne town side. Truth be told as soon as the fixtures came out this looked like a big challenge for the opening day, and so it proved as the visitors ran out comfortable winners , and showed their extra class and strength in depth right across the pitch.
Steyning had gone with a 3-4-3 formation that had been used over the pre season, with Fitzpatrick, skipper Gathern and Timms in front of JJ. Haulkham and debutant Billy White were in central midfield, flanked by Parazo and Clark. Up top Radmore and debutants Ben Hands and LiamBenson were given the task of getting something from Eastbourne back four.
The game started in pretty open fashion and for the first 20 minutes or so the exchanges were pretty even. Eastbourne certainly had more possession, but Steyning were also playing some neat football and the direct running of the front three was certainly reaping some success. Radmore went close with a low drive, Benson lobbed high and wide with a good half chance and twice Eastbourne keeper Bolwell had to be off his line quickly to win narrow fifty fifties with Benson and Radmore.
At the other end though Eastbournes tidy build up play and excellent movement was causing problems for Steyning. A great chance at point blank range was headed over. Town didnt heed the warning though and on 23 minutes Perry slid home past JJ after great build up play.
After this the visitors put their foot firmly on the gas and Town were pretty much penned back in their own half and were hanging on for the half time whistle. However just as it though they may get there they were hit with a double blow. Firstly after a goal line scramble the ball trickled over the line for an own goal and straight after the points were all but secured as Perry headed home powerfully from close range.
These goals totally changed the outlook and the second half began look more about damage limitation and working on correcting things that had not gone as well in the first half. However the quality of the Eastbourne side shone through in the next 45 minutes as they controlled proceedings. A number of good saves from JJ kept the scoreline down. However two fine finishes from Cook and Vickers, both past stand in keeper Fitzpatrick, forced in to the sticks after an injury to JJ, gave the scoreline a more fairer reflection of the afternoon.
The introduction of Bacon and Faber could not influence proceedings enough for Town to score a consolation. Bull looked lively with some direct running, Faber firedover twice and Bacon was busy but will no end result as the back four stood firm. Haulkhan fired over a free kick from 25 yards. There was still time for stand in kepper Fitzy to pull of a blinding double save, and a number of other good saves as Eastbourne looked to inflict further pain.
Overall the final whistle was met with a sigh of relief for the Town faithful. A sobering afternoon but certainly no reasons to be downhearted. There will be fewer sterner tests that this in the league this season and against a side sure to be in the title mix, and Steyning can still look forward with optimism and be ready to bounce back on Tuesday evening at home to Crawley Down Gatwick.
A final note that the game was superbly officiated with little complaints from either bench and the match was conducted in a terrific manner from both sides and the sin bin was rarely threatened!!!
Town: Banasco – Zaragoza, Gathern, Timms, Fitzpatrick Clark, Haulkham, White, Parazo, Radmore, Benson, Hands Subs used: Bull, Faber, Bacon. Not used Romain, Myers
Attendance : 117