Victoria Baptists 4
South Coast Athletico 6
For this weekends game the Chopbacks traveled to Victoria Baptists in Eastbourne’s Old Town.
The Baptists have had mixed fortunes so far in the season’s opening fixtures recording a win, a loss and a draw.
As the weather closed in the inevitable rain set in for the day and both teams began the process of feeling each other out and the game started in a scrappy manner.
Baptists looked a far better team than their form suggested and South Coast looked uncharacteristically disjointed and very poor at the back. The usual crisp passing game the Chopbacks are so well versed in seemed to have been left at home and it was Victoria Baptists that were beginning to put together some impressive passing sequences.
Around 13 minutes in, South Coast caught Baptists on the break, Bradley Owens picked up the ball and played in Luke Darvill to put away the opening goal of the contest.
Right from kick-off the opposition had been playing through the Chopbacks midfield and with the defence out of position and no sign of challenges, they carved through and equalised only 60 seconds after they had picked the ball out of their own net.
It was clear they were going to be resilient.
For the next 20 minutes the game continued to be messy with both teams scrapping for the ball. South Coast looked visibly shocked and struggled to keep possession for more than two or three passes. In the 33rd minute Baptists again easily beat the Chopbacks defensive line and took the lead with a nicely worked goal.
In a mirror image of the opening two goals, this time it was the Chopbacks who replied immediately as Harry Jackson put a through ball to Darvill who produced a cool composed finish for his second goal of the day pulling both teams level.
Eight minutes later, Baptists again played out wide, dodged a challenge or two and once more breezed through the Chopbacks defensive line slotting home past a bewildered Ben Tate to take the lead for the second time.
South Coast battled on but looked lost for ideas and began questioning responsibilities instead of focussing on the game, this led to a poor defensive error in the box as a Baptists striker was bought down by one of the many miss timed tackles in defence.
Baptists scored the resulting penalty sending the Chopbacks keeper the wrong way taking their team into the interval with a 4-2 lead.
It seemed Chopbacks manager Neil Sutcliffe had a mountain to climb to turn around the squad’s performance. He brought the team down to earth with some heart felt straight talking to switch the mentality of the team, then backed it up with technical advice.
Sam Cook also put in his pointers and the lads listened and absorbed what was said to them.
The second half got underway and the Chopbacks pressed forward, a poor challenge in the opening 40 seconds saw Jackson brought down a few yards from Baptists’ area and up stepped a frustrated but determined Connor Easton who fired his shot home beating the opposition keeper to put South Coast back on track.
With the Chopbacks now showing composure and following the game plan, 30 minutes of jostling followed with both teams finding mixed success, but neither able to find the net.
Freshly subbed on Ryan Penney made an immediate impact at the 72nd minute taking a corner, he picked out Mike Hawley who scored a characteristic thundering strike to bring the teams level with four goals each.
The goal the Chopback’s confidence and wiped away the day’s frustrations. They moved up a gear and three minutes later were rewarded by a fantastic Bradley Owens goal from midfield, coming from a Hawley throw in.
It was all Coast from this point on. Moments later a perfectly delivered ball from the Chopbacks own half bypassed Baptists’ back line as they tried to push up and gave a 3-on-2, then 2-on-1 advantage, a simple pass across the keeper would have increased the lead, but the option wasn’t taken and the keeper saved with some excellent positioning.
In the 87th minute the final yet seemingly inevitable goal came with substitute Ryan Fuller netting the ball after reacting quickest to Bradley Owens original strike to seal the victory at 6-4.
The game was a hard fought one with the lesson hopefully learned by the players that even when they’re not on form rugged determination, a positive mindset and sticking to the training plan can get great results.
Man of the match was Charley Adams for his constant form on the day making well timed challenges on the left and repeatedly pushing through driving runs deep into the oppositional wing never letting his head drop and stepping up his own game to help the team.
Next week the lads are back in action against Bexhill A.A.C II who were the only team to do the double on South Coast last season, so Neil Sutcliffe and Sam Cook will be expecting their men to seek a little revenge.