Broadbridge Heath beat Bexhill to confirm promotion

Tiago Andrada has been a revelation for Heath this season. Two more goals on Saturday made it 24 for the season for the striker. Below: Both Heath and Loxwood can still finish the season as Division 2 champions

Tiago Andrada has been a revelation for Heath this season. Two more goals on Saturday made it 24 for the season for the striker. Below: Both Heath and Loxwood can still finish the season as Division 2 champions

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At 5 o’clock on the September 28, Steve Painter addressed his squad in the far corner of the pitch at AFC Uckfield having watched what he described as the worst performance of his management career when his side had just lost 4-0.

It was made very clear that performances like these were not acceptable and he demanded a response from his players to the set back.

JPCT 220214 FOOTBALL: Loxwood v BBH. Photo by Derek Martin

JPCT 220214 FOOTBALL: Loxwood v BBH. Photo by Derek Martin

Well Painter could not have dreamt the response he got; Heath have not lost a league game since then and racked up their 22nd match unbeaten with Saturday’s 2-1 victory at Bexhill which also rubber stamped their promotion to County League Division 1 for only the second time in their history.

The victory at Bexhill was probably one of the least memorable performances with a difficult surface and in a gusty wind making it hard for either side to inject much fluency into their play.

However the youthful Heath midfield of Rob Godfrey, Ollie Moore and Piers McDermott soon gained control and it was no surprise when Tiago Andrade opened the scoring in the 13th minute. A long McDermott free kick was played deep into the Bexhill penalty area, a defender tried to head it back to his keeper but Andrade intercepted and scored.

That lead didn’t last long when out of the blue a short back pass from Jamal Sultan let in Shelton and although James Fisher half blocked the effort, it fell to Danny Turner who made no mistake to equalise.

The rest of the half was scrappy with neither side looking likely to add to the score.

Having changed the shape of the team shortly before half-time, Heath attacked from the restart and were clearly not happy to settle for the point which would guarantee promotion.

Jake Holmes replaced Purkis and Heath began to take control again. With just over an hour gone McDermott’s long throw was skilfully glanced into the top far corner by Andrade to regain the lead and notch his 24th goal of the season.

This time Heath maintained the momentum and Moore, Holmes and Godfrey all went close.

So a slightly fortunate end but with Fisher barely having a save to make, Heath deserved the win which takes them into second place, two points behind Eastbourne Utd and two ahead of neighbours Loxwood, who lost 4-1 at Little Common but have a game in hand.

Heath now look forward to hosting Steyning Town in their last home game of the season on Saturday before facing County League Champions East Preston in the RUR Cup semi-final at Lancing on Wednesday April 23.

Heath’s last league game is at Eastbourne Utd on the April 26 and with Heath Reserves top of their league it is exciting times at Broadbridge Heath.

BBH: Fisher, Sultan, Alfieri, Day, Attwater, Godfrey, Moore, McDermott, Andrade, Purkis (Holmes 60) Wood (Thomas 85).