Action from AFC Varndeanians vs. Billingshurst

Brilliant Billingshurst breeze through

AFC Varndeanians 1-4 Billingshurst

There was a cup upset in our Feature Game of the Sussex Senior Challenge Cup First Round as SCFL Division 1 side Billingshurst overcame Premier Division AFC Varndeanians at the Withdean Stadium on Monday night.

The visitors took the lead early courtesy of an own goal and doubled that lead on the half-hour mark through Matt Rendall. Alex Rainford pulled a goal back for Varndeanians just before the break, but they were unable to force an equaliser and two late goals from Jacob Aichroth and Gav Fowler sealed a superb 1-4 victory for The Hurst.

Billingshurst started the brighter of the two sides and took the lead as early as the 7th minute, when an in-swinging corner from the far-side, beat those at the front post, and ricocheted off the knee of the unfortunate Varndeanians skipper, Omar Bukleb, and into his own net.

The goal seemed to spark some life into the home side, and the lively Kyle Woolven saw a golden opportunity to equalise kept out by Billinghurst keeper Elliott Orris, who did expertly to somehow divert the close-range effort onto the crossbar.

With a third of the game played the away side extended their advantage, and it came via another corner. This time the ball fell kindly for the Billingshurst captain Rendall in the box, and his low strike evaded everyone before nestling into the bottom corner.

In added time at the end of the first period AFC gave themselves a route back into the game, Woolven found space to get a shot, come pass, across the six-yard box and there was Rainford to tap in and halve the deficit.

Varndeanians buoyed by that late goal came out for the second-half in search of the equaliser, and had most of the play, but always looked susceptible to Billingshurst on the counter-attack.

Orris was having a fine game in goal for the visitors, and he was called upon on several occasions to preserve his sides lead, as AFC applied the pressure.

There was a warning just short of the hour mark that Billingshurst weren’t going to roll over to their higher place opposition, as Sam Jobbins low effort evaded a motionless Archie Whatman in the Varndeanians goal and came back off the upright.

With a quarter of the game to go, the woodwork was hit again by Billingshurst on the break, as some neat interplay created the opportunity for Fowler, but on the stretch and with the goal at his mercy, he could only direct his effort against the crossbar.

Changes were frequent for both sides as the clock ticked down and it was a substitute that got the all-important next goal. Aichroth on for his Billingshurst senior debut, had already made a couple of crucial interceptions before breaking forward down the left, cutting inside two players and firing back across goal into the corner!

There was still time for Billingshurst to hit the crossbar (again), as the bullish Tim Bennett’s strike from distance just didn’t dip enough, and moments later the cherry on top for the visitors as, after some fine footwork in the box from the aforementioned Bennett, he squared the ball for Fowler to covert and complete the cup upset.

(A selection of photographs can be found on Facebook - courtesy of Simon Roe Photography)

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