Bexhill United 0 Bognor Regis Town 5

Wednesday 15th December 2021 7:30pm – Sussex Senior Cup – The Polegrove, Bexhill-on-Sea

I’m going to be brutally honest here and say that I headed down to the seaside on a Tuesday night before Christmas not for the bracing air, the lure of the fresh fish and chips or even a ‘Kiss me quick’ hat for CMF’s Christmas present. It was for one thing, and one thing alone. A 92 year old beauty.

Bexhill can boast to have hosted the first ever motor race in Britain, gained infamy thanks to Monty Python’s Dreaded Battered Pudding Thrower and been the inspiration for Keane’s 2012 song Sovereign Light Cafe (thank you wikipedia) but all of that pales into insignificance when compared to the mock Tudor Grandstand at The Polegrove, home to The Pirates of Bexhill United.

Such had been my excitement at seeing one of the beauties of Non-League football that I had turned down the £18 double cheeseburger meal at the Emirates and even sacked off a Christmas drinks event to drive 58 miles south-ish, following caravans, lorries and learner drivers on winding country roads. Was it worth it? 100% absolutely. This was definitely a stand to look into and admire rather than look out from.

Bexhill United are on the up. Why wouldn’t they be? Shunted, favourably from Step 6 to Step 5 by the FA in the ‘Great Non-League Reshuffle’ in the summer of 2021 they have found their feet quickly in the Southern Combination Premier Division, sitting in fourth place in the table prior to the game and on the back of a nineteen match unbeaten run. Football had finally returned to The Polegrove after the cricket season had ended and a home draw to injury/Covid/Christmas party ravaged Bognor Regis Town could have seen that run extended to twenty.

Such was the shortage of players from the Rocks that they could only name two substitutes, with a combined age of 31. Harvey Whyte, sent off in the competition back in February 2020 was still suspended, and potentially could be for another two seasons if the Rocks are knocked out in the next round as the suspension is competition specific whilst a number of players were feeling the effects of their vaccinations. However, in the end they had enough class, and energy on a heavy pitch to run out comfortable winners, navigating through a tricky opening period of the second half where the hosts came close to cancelling out Charlie Bell’s 20th minute opener.

With three quarters of the game played the visitors still only held a one goal advantage. Seasoned football maestro Jack Pearce gave winder Kane Diedrick-Roberts the benefit of his 75 years of running down the line in a fashion that left none of the 160 people watching in no doubt that if he could, he would have swapped places with the young winger in a heartbeat.

They got their second from a well-worked corner. Bell raised both hands, so did Robson at the edge of the penalty area. The ball found him unmarked and his goal-bound header was deftly diverted in by Odokonyero, despite the home sides protests about obstruction.

If the Bognor striker’s first goal was slightly fortuitous, then his second three minutes later was class, skipping through the defence and lifting the ball over the on-rushing Bexhill keeper.

Three became four (Diedrick-Roberts low drive from edge of the area) and then five (low strike from Flannigan) to add a gloss on the final score. The Rocks head to the quarter finals whilst the Pirates can bask in the glory of having one of the finest stands in Non-League football.

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