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Bailey at the double as Blues keep up pressure

(March 19, 2016)

Crowhurst 1 - 2 Sidley United - ESFL Division One

A brace of quality finishes from James Bailey gave Sidley a vital win to keep up the pressure at the top of the table.

A dreadful pitch with long grass and poorly visible lines made it nigh on impossible for any decent football to be played but both teams were determined to try their best.

The first 15 minutes passed with little chances but with Crowhurst possibly playing the neater football in the middle of the pitch. However the first early chance fell to Sidley's Ashley Elphick after a throw in was laid off to him but he got too much power on his shot which went over the bar.

Crowhurst tried to get the ball out wide but Sidley nullified them fairly well and on the one occasion the defenders didn't close a cross down, the Crows striker headed over the bar from around 12 yards.

Sidley took the lead on 33 minutes although Crowhurst felt aggrieved about the manner of it. A Crows attack was flagged offside and the referee initially whistled for it but as Sidley goalkeeper Joe Rogers had the ball in his hands anyway he elected to let play carry on. Rogers' long kick was flicked on to Bailey who brilliantly delayed his shot, sending the defender to the floor, before firing low past Hankinson in the Crowhurst goal. A rare moment of quality giving the Blues the lead.

The goal seemed to give Sidley fresh impetus and Aaron Cochrane flashed an effort just wide shortly after the goal as Sidley began finally to really take the game to the home side. Crowhurst responded with a good move just before half time which ended with a volley from the edge of the area going wide.

Sidley would have hoped to keep on the front foot in the second half but made the worst possible start as Crowhurst were awarded a penalty on 48 minutes. A shot from the edge of the area was deflected through to a striker who was with his back to goal and Rogers made a rather rash tackle to bring him down, giving the referee little choice. Gary Croft sent Rogers the wrong way to level the scores.

Determined to get back on track, Sidley carved out another good chance for Elphick on the right of the area as he beat the advancing Hankinson to the ball but again the shot had too much power as it went over the bar.

Crowhurst thought they had taken the lead as a shot from the edge of the penalty area hit the Sidley bar and bounced down before being cleared. The Crowhurst appeals that the ball had crossed the line were waved away by the referee who confidently declared the ball came down on the line, not over.

Sidley went back in front on 75 minutes with another quality move. Arron Scrace, on as a sub for Elphick, played a cute ball through for Bailey to run on to and he beat the last defender to fire in low at the near post and put Blues back in front.

As Crowhurst threw men forward in search of the equaliser, gaps appeared at the back which Sidley looked to exploit. Bailey came closest to getting his hat trick as he chested over a Cochrane cross and he did have the ball in the net from a corner in stoppage time but the referee had blown for a foul on the goalkeeper.

Crows had resorted to long kicks forward from Hankinson but Rogers and the Sidley defence dealt with them confidently and held out for what could be an important result in the title race.

A big Easter weekend lies ahead for Sidley with away trips to J.C. Tackleway and Old Hastonians in the space of 3 days before the Sussex FA Junior cup final against an improving Wadhurst United.

Sidley Team: Rogers, May (Mabb), Hempe, Eldridge, Copley, Carey, Cochrane, Elphick (Scrace), Bailey, Corke, Roberts. 

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