Saltdean United FC 5-0 LEISURE
October 26, 2011 - Vernon Wentworth Cup 2nd Round
Worthing Leisure travelled to East Sussex on Wednesday night to take on County League Division 3 pace setters Saltdean United in the Vernon Wentworth Cup second round.
Although there was belief within the visiting camp of causing what would be an unlikely upset Leisure were unaware of how difficult a task it would be.
There were notable absentees from Saturday’s game and Leisure was to be without a number of midfield options. Ben Reilly was due to start the game and he too was ruled out minutes before the team sheet was submitted with a recurrence of his groin injury. Clement was asked to start where he was only brought along initially as an emergency substitute having been withdrawn through injury in Saturday’s 3-3 draw at L and S. He joined Spencer and Elliott to complete a competitive midfield.
The game began with Saltedean straight onto the front foot. Obvious footballing ability was demonstrated as they quickly got into a passing game with all looking comfortable when in possession. Leisure stood firm and had to ask of all the experience of Hack to marshall a backline coming under continued pressure. Scerri read the game well alongside the club captain and Hoyle and Justice coped admirably. The biggest problem for Leisure was that they just could not keep the ball long enough to relieve the pressure. Elliott and Spencer competed well and made strong challenges for the ball but this was becoming a regular pattern as as soon as the ball was won it was quickly regained by Saltdean as Leisure struggled to come to terms with pace of the game. All too often Leisure have had it too easy in their own league and it was clear this complacency would not cut it against superior opposition.
Despite working hard it looked as if a goal was coming. Everett was forced to save, tipping over his own bar from a well struck shot. This only proved to be a delay for Saltdean to deservedly take the lead. Leisure got caught trying to play out of defence and were quickly punished. A quick pass to the winger cutting in from the left was met by Everett attempting to close the angle, but the finish was too good finding the top corner with great power and precision. 0-1.
Despite working hard to stay in the game Leisure were to have a brief total collapse that would prove to end the game. Playing against a strong wind going into half time trailing a narrow lead would give the visitors encouragement but that was blown out of the water.
Leisure switched off and allowed Saltdean two quick fire goals. Firstly Scerri was caught a little flat footed as a Saltdean player went past him and got to the bye-line before crossing to an un-marked late run into the box to easily place into the empty net. 0-2. Secondly Leisure was out of sorts allowing too much time in the box as a looping ball was first to be met by an attacker who found the top corner from eight yards.
At 3-0 down with still ten minutes to go until half-time Leisure looked vulnerable to concede more. But, to their credit, they recovered well and started to play football with far greater purpose. The visitors had woken up a bit and remembered that, they too, have ability on the ball and started to use it far better. Against a strong wind it was difficult to release Witten and Mott but with more patience they were able to manufacture better opportunities. Anderson, persistent as always, managed to chase down a ball over the heads of the defensive line. It looked as if his lobbed effort would give Leisure a goal before the break but the wind held up the ball and it veered away from the target and past the wrong side of the post.
At 3-0 down Leisure had to change to get themselves competing better with their opposition and to try and get back into the game. Clement, who was not at 100% made way at half time as Leisure opted for a 4-4-2 formation. Witten went up alongside Anderson to offer support and Steve Gettings came on for his debut after only just signing for the club.
The reaction from Leisure was positive and the possession and territorial advantage were now being shared. The second half proved to be far more of an even game with both sides playing some very good football. Leisure were now matching Saltdean and the game looked far more even and competitive.
Gettings made a good start down the right side of midfield looking a threat when going forward, his delivery also causing problems in the box as Anderson and Mott were both unfortunate not to make better of the chances. Spencer and Elliott were chasing shadows in the first half but both now looked comfortable going man for man in the midfield and also improved their distribution bringing greater continuity to the side.
With Spencer booked in the first half and still having to make challenges it was decided to withdraw him in the second half to protect him whilst Hoyle had to be replaced at right back due to a stiffening of his problematic back. Day and Forder both came on for their first appearances of the season as Justice moved into midfield.
Scerri and Hack remained solid at the back but for both fitness levels were diminishing. With 20 minutes to go many other players in gold had to dig deep as their first half of chasing the ball was beginning to take its toll. Despite being a match for Saltdean in the second half and certainly holding their own it would be fitness that would change the scoreline and perhaps not reflect the whole of the game.
A strong run down the right took the Saltdean winger beyond Forder, his cross from the right arced away from Everett and straight onto the waiting head of the attacker to make it four. Cruelly minutes later an equally good run down the left was put across the six-yard box tempting Everett to try and collect, however, at full stretch all he could do was divert it into the knees of Forder covering where the deflection took the ball into the net. 5-0.
The scoreline remained 5-0 at the end and for Leisure it completed a disappointing week. In this game Leisure would have taken heart from their second half performance but will feel disappointed they could not begin the game with the same tempo and quality.
But in truth Saltdean United are a very good footballing side that will surely go on to gain promotion to senior football where they will fair very well. It shows that the gap at the top of County football this season to where Worthing Leisure are has widened, but there was enough in the second half to suggest it is not insurmountable with a bit of belief and hard work.