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Saturday 5th September 2015 ko 15.00

Southern Combination “Peter Bentley” League Challenge Cup 2nd Round

LANGNEY WANDERERS 1 (Buckett 9) Byrne sent off 88 (2nd booking)

EASTBOURNE UNITED ASSOCIATION 2 (Clarke 28 Baitup 80)

Att c100

Entry £5

Programme £1

Once upon a time there was a team in Eastboune called Shinewater Association. They played on a pitch behind the village hall, but found their progress hamped by a poor pitch, vandalism, and the near impossibility of getting permission to erect floodlights. In 2003 they opted to merge with Eastbourne United and the new club was rather inelegantly renamed Eastbourne United Association. Since then they’ve played their home games at United’s ground, The Oval. But that is only half the story.

I’m sure one or two or you are now thinking “Langney, isn’t that what Eastboune Borough were called?” and you’d be correct. They too come from the same part of Eastbourne, and Priory Lane is only around a mile-and-a-half from Shinewater Rec’ but there was soon to be yet another club in the area.

Langney Wanderers were formed in 2010, and played Sunday football for three seasons before entering the East Sussex League in 2012 and winning it at their first attempt. That saw them placed in the Sussex County League Division 3 which they promptly won too. That success saw them hit the same hurdle as their predecessors- lack of floodlights.

Now the story gets a little odd, the club finished last season third in Division Three, but were promoted for this season. With the County League now rebadged the Southern Combination to keep the FA happy and the divisions renamed Premier, One and Two allegedly to keep Horsham, freshly relegated into the league, equally happy, the club now finds it at the Step 6 SCL Division One.

There are still no floodlights, or for that matter seats, just the shelter in one corner that looks like its been rescued from the set of “Blake’s 7”  Perhaps it’s that that has allowed the club progress?

But this isn’t an article on the rights and wrongs or ground grading, save to comment that the ground does everything that the club needs it to, my visit here was all about who they were playing!

Yep, Premier Division Eastbourne United Association, so it was close to inevitable that the game would be fiesty, and referee Colin Mallows showed great restraint to restrict himself to 3 bookings. Unfortunately two went to Langney captain Adam Byrne, and the first he may wish to reflect upon, it was for kicking the ball away.

But the hosts I’m sure will remember this game as being the one that got away. They missed chance after chance, or found United keeper Callum Christie in inspired form, and as so often when you don’t take your chances, you get hit by a sucker punch. And this sucker punch was bizarre.

United’s Seb Saunders went for a header, but a collision with defender saw him sprawled on the floor. Wanderers keeper Joe McLoughlin went to check whether he was okay, but the ball was still live, so Liam Baitup slid the ball into the empty net. I’ve no doubt the keeper was showing great sportsmanship, but the adage of “Playing to the whistle” still holds, and his decision cost his team the tie.

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