Sidley United 1 - 1 St Leonards Social - ESFL Premier Division - Saturday 8th April 2017

Sidley United ended their maiden ESFL Premier Division campaign with a hard fought home draw against St Leonards Social in what was joint managers Adam Day and Owen Ball's last match in charge.

With regular striker Sean Baldwin missing for the Blues, they lacked a focal point in the early exchanges and struggled to create much going forward.

Social had also created little of note but took the lead with the first good bit of football in the match. A neat move down the left ended with Andy Garman heading past Rogers after 10 minutes to give the visitors the lead. 

A change in shape saw Mark Funnell move up front from centre back as Blues looked to have more of an impact in the opposition penalty area and they began to have some joy with James Bailey twice being denied by visiting goalkeeper Gavin Bourne before half time. However it was fair to say that Social certainly had the better of the first half with the glorious sunshine often more of a talking point than action on the pitch.

The half time whistle seemed to galvanise Sidley who equalised within the first minute of the second period. Some positive play by Chris Sanderson, on for the injured Day, enabled a cross from the right which was turned past Boune by a Social defender. 

Sidley began to get on top and almost went in front when a lovely move saw a dangerous low cross by Gary Hempe defended well by a covering Social defender.

Both teams had late chances to win it late on as Sidley first gave the ball away in their own penalty area and were saved by a last ditch block before almost winning it when Bourne clawed the ball away from just under his crossbar.

However a winning goal wasn't to be and a draw was probably a fair reflection. The draw does at least ensure that Sidley will finish in the top half of the table although their chances of finishing third are almost surely over now given rival's matches remaining. Day and Ball stepped down as the Blues campaign came to an end. 

Sidley Team: Rogers, Elphick, Hempe, Copley, Funnell, Cole, Day (Sanderson), Carey, O'Callaghan, Scrace, Bailey (Shelton). 

Sidley United 2 - 0 Hawkhurst United - ESFL Premier Division - Saturday 25th March 2017 

Sidley United produced a rare clean sheet as two second half goals were enough to defeat Hawkhurst for a second time this season. 

A strong wind and an uneven pitch made it difficult for both sides to get into their rhythm but Blues started the better with Sean Baldwin firing just over the bar after only 4 minutes. 

Hawkhurst sought to get their pacey forwards in behind the Sidley back line but too often the wind meant that long balls carried safely through to Blues' goalkeeper Joe Rogers. 

The visitors did have the ball in the net shortly before the half time whistle from a corner but the referee spotted a handball offence and disallowed the goal.

Sidley again began the second half strongly, now dominating the play and forcing a number of corners. And from one corner the ball was turned into the net on 60 minutes by a Hawkhurst defender.

Four minutes later Blues doubled their lead from another corner as hesitation between defender and goalkeeper allowed Mark Funnell to nip between them and poke the ball home for his first goal of the season.

The remaining 25 minutes saw both teams try to create chances without much success, but it was enough for Sidley to do the double over Hawkhurst and maintain their position of 3rd place in the table.

They have one match remaining, at home to St Leonards Social on April 8th.

Sidley Team: Rogers, Elphick, Hempe, Eldridge, Funnell, Cole, Day, Carey (O'Callaghan), Agutter, Bailey (Scrace), Baldwin (Copley).

Westfield II 1 - 3 Sidley United - ESFL Premier Division - Saturday 18th March 2017

Sidley United recovered from going a goal down as strikes from Arron Scrace, James Bailey and Jordan Cole sealed the win in their final away match of the campaign.

Blues started on the front foot, having the better of the early exchanges, but with only 12 minutes played, some hesitant defending allowed a Westfield attacker to steal the ball only to be fouled as he headed towards goal. The resulting free-kick was lofted in to the penalty area where it took a slight deflection off a Sidley player to end up in the net.

Sidley pushed forward looking to get back into the game but were unable to get into a rhythm. This led to a succession of fouls by both sides, further disrupting the flow of the game. Sidley's equaliser came in the 29th minute when a Gary Hempe free kick 30 yards from goal was met by Aaron Scrace who fired it back across and into the net from a tight angle.

Half time saw the teams level and with little to choose between them. However, Sidley started the second half on the front foot and took the lead courtesy of a goal from James Bailey. A just reward for the hard working forward who was consistently doubled up on by the Westfield defenders who recognised his threat.

The lead however was less than secure as Westfield looked dangerous every time they came forward, missing two very good opportunities to level the score. A third Sidley goal was clearly needed to secure the win, but it was goalkeeper, Joe Rogers who saved the day for Sidley when he made an important, indeed match winning, save when one-on-one with a Westfield attacker just five minutes before the end.

The third Sidley goal finally arrived in added time. From a corner, substitute Jordan Cole rose above the crowd to head the ball firstly against a defender, and then at the second attempt into the net. All in all, a scrappy but well-won three points against a determined Westfield side who never gave up.

Sidley Team: Rogers, Carey, Hempe, Copley, Eldridge, Funnell, Day (Cole), O'Callaghan (Agutter), Scrace (Elphick), Bailey, Baldwin.

Sidley United 0 - 1 Hollington United - Hastings FA Intermediate Cup Semi final - Saturday 11th March 2017

Sidley United's final remaining hopes of silverware this season were ended by an early goal as Hollington United progressed to the final of this cup competition.

The league leaders began on the front foot, dominating the early spells as Sidley began slowly. And they were made to pay for this slow start on 12 minutes as a corner was turned home by Grant Cornelius.

Gradually though Sidley grew into the game and had the better of the final 20 minutes of the first half, albeit without creating many goalscoring opportunities. Ashley Elphick was perhaps a standout performer for Sidley, always energetic and hard working in the full back position.

The second half saw Sidley firmly in control of the play as Hollington resolved to protect their lead. Despite Sidley having the bulk of the pressure, they were unable to get behind the Hollington defence, who did a good job of closing the hosts down and restricting their chances.

In the end, Sidley's hard work went unrewarded and they were left to focus on trying to collect as many points as possible from their final 3 league matches whilst Hollington's hopes of a league and cup double live on.

Sidley Team: Rogers. Elphick, Hempe, Eldridge, Copley (Funnell), Cole, Sanderson, O'Callaghan, Scrace (Brockhurst). Bailey (Carey), Baldwin.

Sidley United 1 - 2 Eastbourne Rangers - ESFL Premier Division - Saturday 25th February 2017

Sidley United suffered a first defeat of 2017 as Eastbourne Rangers claimed a win thanks to a contentious late penalty.

The Blues chose to kick into the strong wind in the first half and the conditions possibly played a role in the game's opening goal. A corner from the left and some questionable marking saw Tony Russell head past Rogers to give the visitors the lead after just 4 minutes.

Sidley grew into the game but found it difficult to create clear opportunities. Sean Baldwin came closest, first showing good feet to work an opportunity which was well saved before almost finding Arron Scrace for a tap in with a good low ball, Scrace only denied by a last minute clearance.

Rangers looked to counter but their best opportunity for a second goal came from a strong penalty appeal when a player seemed to be tripped. The referee initially raised his whistle, but appeared to change his mind leaving Rangers unhappy.

At the beginning of the second half it was Sidley's turn to appeal for a spot kick when Chris Sanderson appeared to be brought down but the referee signalled only a throw in. However from that throw in, a scramble in the area eventually fell to Baldwin to poke the ball home.

Both teams sensed the win was within grasp and Rangers felt they had gone in front when a header looped over Rogers and appeared to have crossed the line before being hooked away but the referee was not convinced.

However there was more controversy left as a ball in on 88 minutes brushed Funnell and the referee awarded a penalty for handball which Sidley players fiercely contested. Russell slotted past Rogers for his second goal to seal the win and move Rangers to just a point behind the Blues.

Sidley are next in action at home to Hollington United in the semi finals of the Hastings FA Intermediate Cup on March 11th.

Sidley Team: Rogers, Elphick, Hempe, Eldridge, Carey, Cole (Funnell), O'Callaghan, Sanderson, Scrace (Day), Shelton (Bailey), Baldwin.

Sedlescombe Rangers 1 - 1 Sidley United - ESFL Premier Division - Saturday 18th February 2017

Sidley United continued their unbeaten run in 2017 as they drew with Sedlescombe Rangers in a match punctuated with 2 bizarre penalty awards.

Blues began the same starting line up that so brilliantly saw off Battle Baptists last week and they started well with some early pressure on the Sedlescombe goal although neither side really created a clear opportunity in the opening quarter.

However Sidley were given a golden chance to take the lead on 29 minutes. As a Sidley corner was played in, referee Jessica Storrie blew the whistle. With both sets of players looking confused, she signalled for a penalty for an apparent shirt pull. Reliable Gary Hempe cooly converted to give Blues the lead.

The rest of the half was an even battle as both sides looked to try and get the next goal but the Blues went in 1 - 0 up at the interval.

The second half continued much in the same vein with a number of half chances for both sides but no clear cut opportunities.

However on 58 minutes it was Sedlescombe's time to be awarded a soft penalty in an almost carbon copy of the one given in the first half, this time for an apparent push in the back although no one appealed. But unlike Hempe, Rangers' Pete Matthews dragged a poor effort horribly wide of Rogers' right hand post.

The game became somewhat scrappy for the next 15 minutes and a couple of yellow cards were shown to each side. Rangers had a good chance to level as a ball in from the left was miscued by the striker from 6 yards out while Sidley tried to carry on coming forward.

Sedlescombe equalised with a goal on 80 minutes as an initial ball into the box wasn't cleared completely by the Sidley defence and Kevin Clifford struck a shot high into the net to even the scores.

Both sides had late chances to win it as Rogers made a vital save to deny a Sedlescombe player who had broken through the defence while, at the other end, stoppage time efforts by John Carey and Hempe almost won it for the Blues.

In the end a draw was probably about right but Blues will be disappointed not to have taken all three points. 

Sidley Team: Rogers, Elphick, Hempe, Copley, Eldridge, Cole, Day, O'Callaghan (Carey), Scrace, Bailey (Agutter), Baldwin (Shelton).

Battle Baptists 1 - 2 Sidley United - Hastings FA Intermediate Cup Quarter Final - Saturday 11th February 2017

Sidley United produced an excellent performance to see off title challengers Battle Baptists and set up a semi final against league leaders Hollington United in the Hastings FA Intermediate Cup.

Blues were handed an unexpected home advantage as the match was switched to Hooe Rec with Battle's home pitch waterlogged. However, on a heavy pitch, this was always going to be more of a battle than a display of free-flowing football. Blues made one change from their previous outing in the rout against Ore with Mickey O'Callaghan coming in for John Carey.
Battle started the stronger, with Sidley perhaps showing too much respect to the title chasing contender. This allowed Battle to dominate the early play but without really threatening the Sidley goal. Sidley grew into the game and started to exert pressure on the Battle goal in the last 15 minutes of the first half. 
Goalless at half time, the tie was very much still in the balance. This changed only four minutes into the second half however, when a Sidley attack brought the first goal of the game, with James Bailey coolly finishing off a smart move. 
One became two just three minutes later as Sean Baldwin found the net after winning the ball, holding off two defenders and turning to slot the ball past the Battle keeper. A fine individual goal, showing the qualities Baldwin has added to this Sidley side. Baldwin almost made it three, shooting across goal narrowly wide of the far post. 
Battle kept the tie alive, however, with a goal on the hour mark. A free-kick lofted into the box, was headed down by a Sidley defender rather than up and away and the ball fell at the feet of a Battle attacker who poked it past Sidley keeper Joe Rogers.
This gave Battle a lift and they pushed on looking to take the tie into extra time. Sidley defended staunchly though, whilst also taking the game to Battle when the opportunity came. Blues saw the game out, ending Battle's run of 8 straight wins and sealing a semi final encounter at home to Hollington United.
Sidley Team: Rogers, Elphick (Funnell), Hempe, Copley, Eldridge, Cole, Day, O'Callaghan (Agutter), Bailey (Sanderson), Scrace, Baldwin.

Ore Athletic 0 - 5 Sidley United - ESFL Premier Division - Saturday 28th January 2017

Sidley United recorded their biggest win of the season with a comfortable win at Ore Athletic.

The home team began the stronger as Sidley initially found it hard to dominate the play. However after the opening 10 minutes Sidley began to get on top and had good chances through John Carey and James Bailey.

The Blues grabbed the opening goal on 31 minutes as a quick throw in was crossed to Arron Scrace who headed across goal for Bailey to tap in from close range.

Where the first half was perhaps shaded by the visitors, the second half they dominated. They got the second goal they had threatened through Sean Baldwin who finished smartly with a low strike into the far corner on 58 minutes.

Two quickfire goals then put the match firmly out of Ore's reach. Firstly on 64 minutes Baldwin rounded the Ore goalkeeper but saw his shot hit the post, although Scrace was on hand to tap home the rebound. 

And less than a minute later, substitute Jacob Shelton scored a spectacular goal on his Sidley debut, after joining from Bexhill United, with a thunderous strike from outside the area.

Ore struggled to create much as Sidley cut through them at will and it was no surprise when Baldwin got his second, showing good strength to hold off his defender and turn the ball home on 81 minutes to wrap up an excellent performance by Sidley.

Finally the big win Sidley have been promising for some time arrived and a solid defensive display marked by another clean sheet also bodes well for the remaining 5 league matches the Blues have left this season.

Sidley Team: Rogers, Elphick, Hempe (Brockhurst), Copley, Eldridge, Day, Carey (Funnell), Cole, Scrace, Bailey (Shelton), Baldwin.

Sidley United 2 - 2 Old Hastonians - ESFL Premier Division - Saturday 14th January 2017

It was a case of nearly, but not quite for Sidley United on Saturday against familar opponents Old Hastonians.

Blues began strongly in the wet conditions and were on the front foot from the beginning. They took an early lead on 8 minutes as a low ball in from the left by Arron Scrace was turned home at the far post by James Bailey.

That goal seemed to shake Hastonians though and the visitors began to get on top in the first half. They grabbed an equaliser on 21 minutes through Alan Johnson who evaded his marker to finish low past Rogers at the near post.

Sidley began to find it difficult to get out of their half, although they had the sense that they might get something at the other end. But it was Hastonians who went in front at half time as Jordan Cole tripped his man in the box and Johnson stepped up to slot home the resulting penalty.

Mark Funnell stepped off the bench at half time to make his first appearance of the season for the Blues as the sun came out and Sidley started again on the front foot. It was Hastonians now who had dropped deep and Sidley looked menacing through Scrace and Bailey on the wings.

The equaliser though came about slightly fortuitously on 67 minutes. A deep cross slipped through Hastonians goalkeeper Jon Saunders hands, possibly losing the ball in the sun, and John Carey was on home to put the ball into the net from only yards out. Saunders then made a great low save to deny Sean Baldwin as Sidley, firmly on top in the second period, pushed for the winner.

However Hastonians' threat was not extinguished and they hit the crossbar with a free kick right on the edge of the area. Sidley had a very late chance to grab a winner with a breakaway move but Cole couldn't get the ball through to a teammate and Hastonians snuffed out the dangerous move.

As it was, both sides played the game in the right way and perhaps on another day would have taken three points but as it was they had to settle for a draw.

Sidley Team: Rogers, Hardy (Funnell), Elphick, Cole, Eldridge, Copley, Carey, O'Callaghan, Baldwin, Bailey (Brockhurst), Scrace.

Rock A Nore 0 - 4 Sidley United - ESFL Premier Division - Saturday 7th January 2017

Sean Baldwin had a Sidley United debut to remember, grabbing a hat trick at basement side Rock A Nore as Blues claimed a comfortable win.

A shortage of available defenders saw Chris Sanderson starting at right back while Jordan Cole stepped into midfield while Baldwin operated further forward.

Rock A Nore were humiliated 20 - 0 by Robertsbridge just before Christmas and they set out determined not to suffer a repeat. Sidley took a while to get going after the Christmas break but soon took the initiative with Baldwin having an early effort ruled out for offside and Arron Scrace hitting the post. But Blues did break through on 24 minutes as Baldwin headed in from a corner which had been headed on across goal. 

Sidley were unable to add to their tally in the first half as the game became increasingly fractious with the home side picking up numerous bookings but it always appeared a case of when, not if, more goals arrived for the visitors.

Baldwin scored his and Sidley's second on 57 minutes and Scrace added a third 3 minutes later to put the Blues firmly in charge. Sanderson then moved further forward as Sidley dominated the ball. Baldwin was denied another goal in a bizarre incident when he turned the ball past the goalkeeper and through a hole in the net. The referee was not in a position to see if the ball had passed between the posts or gone wide so he asked the home linesman who indicated that he was also not sure so the goal could not be given.

However Baldwin was not to be denied and he claimed his hat trick on 83 minutes with another well taken goal to add gloss to the scoreline. Three points, a clean sheet and three goals from their new signing gave Sidley a positive start to 2017. However the match itself was not the prettiest with Rock a Nore picking up 7 yellow cards in total.

With this win, Sidley moved up to third in the table and next week they host Old Hastonians.

Sidley Team: Rogers, Sanderson, Day, Copley, Cole, Carey, O'Callaghan (Brockhurst), Baldwin (O'Reilly), Elphick, Bailey, Scrace.

Eastbourne Rangers 1 - 1 Sidley United - ESFL Premier Division - Saturday 17th December 2016

Sidley United will come away pleased to get a point in the end from this game but will still feel this was 2 points that got away.

On a sticky pitch Sidley had a chance to go in front inside the first minute but Arron Scrace couldn't get the ball out from under his feet. And as so often seems to be the case, Blues were punished immediately. 

A ball forward found Josh Harris whose first time strike beat Rogers in the Sidley goal to give the home side an early lead. Despite this, Sidley continually carved out chances as Scrace was denied when through one on one before he, Bailey and Elphick all had good chances which went begging.

Some strong words were held amongst the Sidley squad at half time, with the feeling being that they should have been out of sight, let alone behind. They came out in the second half determined to put right the wrongs of the first half.

The game continued in much the same vein with Sidley getting into good positions but the final ball or shot not having the quality needed. That changed though on 65 minutes.

A great crossfield ball from substitute Jack Brockhurst found Elphick who turned his man and fired into the net off the inside of the post to bring Blues deservedly level.

As both defences tired, Rangers had their best spell in the last 15 minutes and Sidley had to thank Rogers for making a terrific save from point blank range to deny a Rangers player converting a cross from the right.

Both sides pushed for a winner but were unable to find one. Blues could reflect on a dominant yet fruitless first half and perhaps a second half where Rangers could have stolen the win.

Sidley Team: Rogers, Gardner, Day (Brockhurst), Copley, Eldridge, Carey, Cole, O'Callaghan, Scrace, Elphick, Bailey.

Sidley United 1 - 2 Sedlescombe Rangers - ESFL Premier Division - Saturday 10th December 2016

Sidley United will have come away disappointed with this result after gifting Sedlescombe 2 second half goals and ultimately the victory.

Blues started strongly and had a good early shout for a penalty after a shot appeared to be blocked by a hand in the area but the referee was unmoved.

A prolonged period of pressure saw Sidley win a succession of corners with Sedlescombe attempting to break when they could. Their best chance came from one of these breakaway moves with Sidley stopper Joe Rogers tipping the shot onto the bar.

Barely a minute afterwards, Sidley took the lead. An early ball forward found Arron Scrace whose 20 yard effort bounced In front of the visiting goalkeeper and into the net to give Blues a half time lead.

The half time scoreline fairly reflected Sidley's dominance but they were pegged back just 25 seconds into the second period. A ball into the box caused hesitancy between Rogers and a Sidley defender and the visitor's Ryan Edwards pounced, poking the ball off the underside of the bar and into the net.

This setback galvanised Sedlescombe and it took Sidley some time to get their rhythm back, going closest through Ashley Elphick's header. But it was the visitors who scored again on 75 minutes as a poor clearance from Rogers went straight to Edwards who deftly lifted the ball over him and into the empty net. 

Sidley, not for the first time this season, were left to reflect on mistakes which cost them points whilst Sedlescombe celebrated a win they had not looked like getting. 

Sidley Team: Rogers, Hardy (Brockhurst), Gardner, Copley, Eldridge, Cole, O'Callaghan, Sanderson, Corke, Scrace, Bailey, Elphick. 

Sidley United 1 - 1 Robertsbridge United - ESFL Premier Division - Saturday 3rd December 2016

Sidley United moved up to third in the table with a 1 - 1 draw against Robertsbridge United thanks to Lee Roberts' second half equaliser.

Blues were unlucky not to be in front after just 3 minutes as a free kick from the left found Ben Eldridge but his first time shot cannoned off the crossbar. 

Robertsbridge dangerman Guy Ballard was booked for kicking the ball away before flashing an effort just wide from the edge of the area.

The visitors took the lead against the run of play on 28 minutes. Lee Mansfield went into a challenge with Sidley goalkeeper Joe Rogers, who felt he had two hands on the ball. Mansfield got up quickest to slot home and Rogers was booked for arguing his case a little too much.

Blues again went close to levelling before the break as James Bailey's cross-cum-shot came back off the post and Chris Sanderson sliced the rebound wide.

The visitors sat deep in the second half looking to protect their lead and it seemed as if that tactic might have succeeded as Arron Scrace had an effort hooked off the line and several goalmouth scrambles were cleared with some last minute blocks.

But with 10 minutes to go Bailey raced onto a ball forward and poked the ball past the onrushing goalkeeper. The covering defender, in his attempt to clear the ball from the goalline, could only strike it against the incoming Lee Roberts and into the net for Sidley to equalise.

Roberts then suffered a serious looking injury to his leg and Blues had to play the last few minutes with 10 men. However they still kept coming forward searching for the winner but were unable to find it and had to settle for their first draw of the season.

Sidley Team: Rogers, Cole, Day, Brockhurst, Eldridge, O'Callaghan, Sanderson, Roberts, Elphick, Bailey, Scrace.

Hollington United 0 - 1 Sidley United - ESFL Premier Division - Saturday 26th November 2016

Sidley United became the first side to take points from leaders Hollington United with James Bailey's late strike capping a focussed performance which also saw the Blues keep their first clean sheet of the season.

With Joe Rogers back in goal, John Carey slotted into central defence as Chris Sanderson returned to midfield and the Blues had a composed look about them throughout the game.

Hollington played ex Hastings United manager Sean Ray up front but appeared to get frustrated with their own direct style which was producing little effect.

The first half saw Sidley come closest as Bailey hit the post from an acute angle after good work by Lee Roberts to win the ball high up the pitch.

Hollington had produced little but there was always the sense that if the Blues switched off they could be punished. However they continued their positive play and the Hollington goalkeeper had to be alert to deny Bailey and Sanderson early in the second period.

As the game progressed Hollington players began arguing amongst themselves and Steve Johnson was substituted after arguing with his managers on the touchline. Blues meanwhile kept coming forward, believing that they could find the goal to win the game.

And with 8 minutes to go they did. A bit of pinball in the area eventually saw the ball fall to Bailey who stabbed home from close range. Sidley still had to survive a tense final few minutes as Hollington pressed but they gamely held on for an excellent win.

If the Blues can consistently play with that level of concentration then they should win more games than they lose this season, especially as they have now played the top two sides twice already this season. Next up Sidley welcome Robertsbridge United to Hooe Rec.

Sidley Team: Rogers, Cole, Day, Carey, Eldridge, O'Callaghan, Sanderson, Roberts (Brockhurst), Elphick, Bailey, Scrace.

Sidley United 1 - 3 Battle Baptists - ESFL Premier Division - Saturday 19th November 2016

Sidley United failed to build on an early lead as second placed Battle Baptists came from behind to beat them for a second time this season.

Blues started a less than fully fit Chris Copley between the posts with regular goalkeeper Joe Rogers continuing in a central midfield berth.

However they started strongly and took the lead on 10 minutes as James Bailey got on the end of a free kick from Micky O'Callaghan to score. Both teams were committed to playing attacking football as the rain began to fall.

Battle equalised on 39 minutes as they were awarded a penalty for what the referee deemed to be a pull in the area and Dale Vinall converted to level the scores at the break.

Sidley began the second half well with sustained pressure, albeit without creating clear goal scoring opportunities. However they fell behind on 62 minutes as a slack pass at the back allowed Finlay Garlick to nip in and put Baptists in front.

Blues pushed forward looking for the equaliser and went close through Ashley Elphick's close range header which was well saved. But again too many misplaced passes and poor choices contributed to the third Baptists goal as a cross from the left was headed past Copley by Trystan Mayhew on 79 minutes.

Sidley pressed after that but rarely looked like scoring and were left to rue the mistakes which make the difference in tight matches at this level. They will need to improve in that department if they are to become the first side to take something from leaders Hollington United next weekend.

Sidley Team: Copley, Hempe (Cannon), O'Callaghan, Cole, Eldridge, Carey, Brockhurst, Rogers, Scrace, Elphick, Bailey.

Sidley United vs Rock A Nore - ESFL Premier Division - Saturday 12th November 2016

Match not played as Rock A Nore unable to raise a side. Walkover win for Sidley United.

St Leonards Social 1 - 4 Sidley United - ESFL Premier Division - Saturday 5th November 2016

A patched up Sidley side exacted the perfect revenge on St Leonards Social, this time coming out on top after scoring 4 second half goals.

With several players missing regular goalkeeper Joe Rogers moved to central midfield and gave a start between the posts to young goalkeeper Travis Robinson.

Social started well and had the lion's share of the first half although they took the lead through a mistake as Sidley gave the ball away and Andy Garman slotted past Robinson on 17 minutes.

Mark Larkin missed a great chance to put Social two goals up before half time but as with last week, the second half momentum completely changed, this time in Sidley's favour.

Just 36 seconds into the second period, a crossfield ball found Scrace in space and he cut the ball back to Micky O'Callaghan who scored with a low finish against his former side. 

With their tails up, Ashley Elphick missed a great chance to put Blues in front as he shot wide but he made amends just moments later, latching onto Robinson's long goal kick and finishing cooly on 52 minutes.

As Social pushed forward, Sidley looked dangerous on the break and they got the third goal they threatened on 69 minutes. Scrace found Elphick who squared the ball back to him to convert from 12 yards out.

Sidley were firmly in the ascendancy and despite the scoreline, Social found it diffcult to put Blues under sustained pressure, although a couple of goalmouth scrambles had to be survived late on.

Sidley put the game to bed in the first minute of stoppage time. The offside flag was raised against Bailey but as the ball went to Elphick, who was clearly onside, the referee waved play on and Elphick slotted into the far corner.

An excellent result given the circumstances and a fabulous second half performance should help breed confidence ahead of the visit of rock bottom Rock A Nore next weekend. 

Sidley Team: Robinson, O'Callaghan, Tudor, Cole, Eldridge, Day (Cannon), Brockhurst, Rogers, Elphick, Bailey, Scrace. 

Sidley United 1 - 4 St Leonards Social - ESFL Premier Travel Challenge Cup - Saturday 29th October 2016

Sidley United exited a second cup competition this season after conceding 3 second half goals to fellow Premier Division side St Leonards Social. 

Blues were forced to reshuffle before kick off as regular left back Gary Hempe pulled a muscle in the warm up, meaning Scrace shifted to full back and Jason Taylor, returning to a Sidley shirt for the first time in almost 3 years, started up front.

And Blues suffered a nightmare start as just 4 minutes in, a cross from the right was turned into his own net by the unfortunate Ian May, continuing Sidley's run of conceding in every match this season.

Despite that early blow, Sidley started to play themselves into good positions and won a succession of corners. It was from one that they equalised on 20 minutes as the ball broke to James Bailey who coolly finished. 

The rest of the half was an attacking affair with both sides creating good chances but the second half was to take a different format.

Social started the second period stronger and retook the lead on 52 minutes with a goal from former Blue Brett Patton. Sidley did have the ball in the net 2 minutes later but were denied by the offside flag.

Social then scored a third, catching Sidley sleeping with a free kick as Patton ran through to score. Blues were still in the tie though and had the sense that a comeback was still possible. However that was extinguished on 83 minutes as Social scored a fourth with a breakaway goal which was finished well by Ross Southwood.

Another player with experience of playing for Blues at County League level, Jack Aston came off the bench as Sidley looked to get back into the game but they were unable to recover. 

Blues couldn't complain about the result in the end and will have to step up the performance levels if they are to exact revenge in the league against the same opponents next week.

Sidley Team: Rogers, May, Scrace, Eldridge, Cole, Sanderson, Day, O'Callaghan,  Corke (Aston), Taylor, Bailey (Brockhurst).  

Sidley United 1 - 2 Hollington United - ESFL Premier Division - Saturday 22nd October 2016

"Football's a cruel game" is the old cliche and that was certainly the case for Sidley against title favourites Hollington United.

The Blues began positively and had much the better of the opening 15 minutes with efforts from Scrace and Elphick going close. However Hollington took the lead with a goal out of nothing on 32 minutes as Reece Johnson found the far corner with a low strike from the edge of the area to cap a good break.

This was harsh on the Blues who were far more positive and energetic than the previous weekend and they continued on this better display in the second period.

Hempe almost equalised with a opportunist effort after a defensive mistake but the goalkeeper tipped his effort onto the post. But Blues weren't to be denied a deserved equaliser. Hempe put the ball into the box with a low cross and Arron Scrace turned and fired his effort into the net via the post to bring Sidley level on 70 minutes.

Both sides pressed and Sidley felt they might nick the win themselves against a clearly rattled Hollington. But they were to suffer stoppage time heartbreak as a shot from the edge of the area by Lewis Finch beat Rogers with practically the last kick of the game to steal the win.

Tough to take but a much improved performance will give Sidley belief that if they play like that every week it will only be a matter of time before the positive results come.

Sidley Team: Rogers, May, Hempe, Eldridge, Cole, Corke, Sanderson, Day, O'Callaghan, Elphick (Bailey), Scrace.

Robertsbridge United 4 - 1 Sidley United - ESFL Premier Division - Saturday 15th October 2016

A disappointing performance saw the Blues slump to a heavy defeat to Robertsbridge United.

Sidley had a warning after just 35 seconds when the home side hit the bar with a cross come shot from the left but failed to heed it as just a minute later, prolific striker Guy Ballard powered a shot past Rogers at his near post to give Robertsbridge the perfect start.

Sidley began playing their way into the game and getting into some good positions but they failed to make the best of them. Ashley Elphick had the best opportunity but dragged his shot wide of the near post.

Right on half time, Blues twice breathed a sigh of relief as Robertsbridge broke through and Rogers took out the striker outside the area and was shown a yellow card as opposed to red. Then the resulting free kick hit the underside of the bar before being cleared away.

Sidley began the second half positively, with Elphick hitting the post inside 30 seconds. However they fell further behind on 59 minutes as a ball over the top found Ballard who lobbed Rogers neatly. 

As the rain started to fall, Robertsbridge made it 3 as Jethro Warren cut inside and bend his effort into the fat corner on 70 minutes.

Sidley finally had something to cheer as Scrace tapped home a cross from the right on 73 minutes. But any hope of that sparking a Blues comeback was swiftly ended as 2 minutes later Robertsbridge broke through again and Ballard finished calmly past Rogers to claim his hat trick.

A disappointing performance to match the result and Blues will have to step up a level to get a result against title favourites Hollington United next week.

Sidley Team: Rogers, May, Hempe, Copley (Brockhurst), Eldridge, Carey (Day), Sanderson, O'Callaghan, Elphick, Cole, Scrace.

Ringmer Reserves 2 - 1 Sidley United - Sussex FA Intermediate Cup - Saturday 8th October 2016

Sidley United went out of the Sussex FA Intermediate Cup at the first hurdle after going down to an extra time goal to Ringmer Reserves. 

Ringmer took the lead in the first half only to be pegged back by a strike from Arron Scrace five minutes before half time.

That was the way it stayed until the first period of extra time when Ringmer struck again and despite Sidley having the better of the play, they couldn't force another equaliser and saw one chance of silverware slip away.

Blues will hope to get back to winning ways next week as they return to league action with a trip to Robertsbridge United.

Sidley Team: Rogers, May, Hempe, Cole, Copley, Carey, O'Callaghan, Corke, Scrace, Roberts, Bailey. Subs used: Elphick, Day.

Sidley United 3 - 2 Westfield II - ESFL Premier Division - Saturday 1st October 2016

Sidley United scored three second half goals to overturn a half time deficit and claim their first home win of the season.

The game ran into trouble prior to kick off with the scheduled referee failing to attend and so, with Westfield in agreement, a Sidley official stepped in to take charge of the game.

The first half was an even contest as Blues, with new signing Jamie Crone up front, struggled to create chances against a youthful Westfield side. Westfield looked to exploit pace down the wings and they had the best chance of the first half hour, with a cross from the left steered wide of Rogers' far post.

The visitors took the lead on 35 minutes as an initial offside was not given and the Westfield striker lifted the ball over Rogers and into the net.

Half time seemed to galvanise Sidley though and they equalised with a spectacular strike. On 55 minutes Ashley Elphick picked the ball up 25 yards out and unleashed a thunderous effort which flew past the goalkeeper and high into the net.

Things got better as Sidley then took the lead on 58 minutes. A free kick was awarded for handball and Gary Hempe placed his effort into the top corner to give Sidley the lead.

With their tails up Blues pressed for a third and were rewarded on 74 minutes as a ball in from the left found substitute James Bailey who controlled and finished cooly from 12 yards out.

But Westfield scored on 89 minutes as they beat the Sidley offside trap and the striker lifted his effort over Rogers to set up a nervy finale.

And there was still time for more tense moments as Rogers had to make a good save with his legs deep into stoppage time but Sidley held on for the points and moved into the top half of the table.

Sidley Team: Rogers, May, Hempe, Copley, Eldridge, Carey (Cole), Day, O'Callaghan, Elphick (Bailey), Roberts (Scrace), Crone.

Sidley United 1 - 2 Ore Athletic - ESFL Premier Division - Saturday 24th September 2016

Sidley United lost their first home game of the season to a late goal from Ore Athletic.

After an even opening, Ore took the lead on 15 minutes when a cross-cum-shot from the left drifted into the net. Shortly after this, midfielder John Carey picked up an injury which meant he couldn't continue and was substituted by Lee Roberts.

The Blues fought back from this setback however as they began to win more second balls and ended the half strongly. Ashley Elphick had the best chance right on half time, but he hit his shot straight at the Ore goalkeeper.

Sidley started the second half strongly, dominating for long stretches. Ore defended bravely though, making it hard for Sidley to find an opening. However the equaliser Blues had threatened finally came in the 76th minute when Ben Eldridge got his head to the ball to find the net.

The encouragement this brought was short lived however when, just 2 minutes later, an attempted clearance from the right back position was sliced into the box where an Ore forward converted, despite not making a clean contact with the ball.

Sidley pushed hard to find another goal against a tiring Ore team; the referee adding 5 minutes of added on time due to time wasting tactics. However, it was not to be and Ore took the points. A hard result to swallow as few would argue that Sidley weren't well worth a point, but as with the week before they must be more clinical in front of goal at this level.

Sidley Team: Rogers, May, West, Copley, Eldridge, Carey (Roberts), Day, O'Callaghan, Bailey, Elphick, Cole.

Battle Baptists 1 - 0 Sidley United - ESFL Premier Division - Saturday 17th September 2016

Sidley United were left to rue an inability to turn possession into goals as they slipped to a first defeat of the season at Battle Baptists.

Blues started well against last year's runners up with Jordan Cole going close to opening the scoring. The best chance though fell to Micky O'Callaghan, playing further upfield, who had two efforts well blocked.

Battle hadn't created much but they grabbed the lead on 39 minutes with a well taken goal. A deflection took the ball into the path of Jules Phillips who cleverly chipped the onrushing Rogers and saw the effort go in off the underside of the bar.

Sidley thought they had equalised right on the half time whistle as Dan Hill hooked an effort from a corner towards goal which the goalkeeper pushed away but Blues players felt that the ball had crossed the line first. However the referee instead blew for half time instead of a goal.

Sidley dominated the second half and had several chances. First Hill flashed an effort wide after latching on to a weak header back to the goalkeeper before a dangerous Hempe free kick somehow evaded the onrushing Blues players.

Battle had chances to wrap the game up on the break late on Sidley pushed forward but some great last minute challenges and wayward finishing kept Blues in the game.

However Sidley were unable to convert their pressure into a goal meaning they slipped to a first league defeat of the campaign.

Sidley Team: Rogers, May, Hempe, Eldridge, Copley, Carey, Sanderson, Hill (Bailey), Elphick, O'Callaghan (Brockhurst), Cole.

Old Hastonians vs Sidley United - ESFL Premier Division 

Match not played as Old Hastonians unable to raise a team. Walkover win for Sidley United. 

Hawkhurst United 2 - 3 Sidley United - ESFL Premier Division - Saturday 10th September 2016

Sidley United began their ESFL Premier Division campaign with a win thanks to a brace of penalties from Gary Hempe and a late strike from Jordan Cole, despite ending with 10 men.

Blues took the lead after 7 minutes after some quick feet from Dan Hill saw him brought down just inside the area and Hempe converted the penalty comfortably. 

The rest of the half was an even affair with Hawkhurst's direct style of play generally well contained by Sidley's defence while Blues often threatened with pace on the wings.

Sidley won a second penalty after 55 minutes as Ashley Elphick was brought down by a clumsy tackle, allowing Hempe to again convert with ease and Blues looked comfortable at that stage.

However, Hawkhurst got a goal back on 64 minutes as a nice turn on the edge of the area allowed the forward to get a shot away which crept into the corner despite Rogers getting a faint hand on it.

Despite this, Sidley found a lot of space opening up and their pace was causing Hawkhurst problems on numerous occasions.

With around 5 minutes left though Blues were reduced to 10 men as Hill, already on a yellow card was shown a second for speaking out of turn to the referee but Blues defied the man disadvantage to score again.

The third goal came with 3 minutes left when Scrace fed young forward Jordan Cole who finished smartly with a firm strike into the corner of the net. 

However the drama wasn't finished as in stopage time the referee awarded Hawkhurst a penalty after Eldridge clashed legs with an opponent and their taker finished powerfully to again reduce the arrears.

That though turned out to be the last kick of the game, meaning the Blues began the campaign with 3 points from their opening tough away game.

Sidley Team: Rogers, O'Callaghan (Godden), Hempe, Eldridge, Copley, Carey, Hill, Corke, Scrace, Elphick (Bailey), Cole.



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