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Dramatic finish to season as Hollington seal title

(May 12, 2018)

Hollington United 5 - 3 Sidley United - ESFL Premier Division

It was a dramatic finish to the East Sussex Football League campaign as three late goals saw Hollington United come from behind to seal the title.

The hosts needed a win to take the crown away from Battle Baptists and they made a fast start, taking the lead after just 2 minutes as Grant Payne followed up to score. However Sidley showed they weren't here to make up the numbers and they levelled on 7 minutes through Sean Baldwin's 24th goal of the season - ensuring he finished the season as the league's top goalscorer.

Things got even better for Sidley on 23 minutes as Rosh Wells put them 2 - 1 up with a free kick which the home goalkeeper perhaps should have done better with. The remainder of the half saw Sidley defend doggedly with goalkeeper Joe Rogers making no less than 3 fantastic saves as they got to the interval with a slender lead which at that stage had the title heading to Battle.

At half time news filtered through that Rye Town had suffered a surprise defeat at bottom side Crowhurst, ensuring that Sidley would finish in third place regardless of their result. And early on the Blues twice went close to extending their lead as only a fingertip save denied Arron Scrace while Chris Copley headed a corner against the crossbar.

Just moments after that though Hollington were level after an initial shot was headed as far as the edge of the area where it was smashed home by Callum Smith. However with Hollington pushing for a winner, a suicidal throw in towards the goalkeeper allowed Scrace to nip in and he was brought down by the goalkeeper for a penalty which Gary Hempe confidently tucked away on 77 minutes to restore the Blues' lead.

Hollington were throwing everything at Sidley and on 84 minutes they won themselves a penalty when Chris Copley fell over in the area and the ball struck his hand. Smith rolled home the spot kick and set the scene for further late drama. Just a few moments after the restart Baldwin was shown a straight red card for an off the ball incident to put Sidley down to 10 men with minutes remaining. 

And with just 2 minutes to go a long ball pumped into the Sidley box wasn't cleared and the ball dropped for Anthony Storey and his shot from just inside the area flew into the top corner to spark jubilant scenes amongst the home contingent. And Hollington weren't finished as in the first minute of stoppage time a lobbed effort from distance by Jan Bailey flew over Rogers' head and into the net to finally secure the title for the home side.

A terrific, see-saw afternoon which was played in the right spirit and with great quality from both sides. Congratulations to Hollington and thank you to all the fans for your support throughout the season.

Sidley Team: Rogers, Eldridge, Hempe, Cole, Copley, Elliott-Noye, Wells, Garman, Elphick, Scrace, Baldwin.

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