Hurst battle ‘farcical’ conditions to keep silverware hopes alive

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Billingshurst kept up their chances of some end of season silverware with a rain-soaked win over Rottingdean Village on Saturday.

Goals from Jordan Saunders and Jamie Groves saw the hosts come from behind to win 2-1 and reach the Vernon Wentworth Cup semis.

Hurst boss Mark Betts said: “In the end it was farcical really it was so wet. We had a change of ref and he was obviously instructed to get the game on whatever, but to be fair for the lion’s share of the game it was OK. By the end it was a different story, and had there been any free Saturdays before the end of the season I’m sure it would have been abandoned.

“But in fairness the referee counted less than ten fouls in the whole game, neither trainer had to go on despite some crunching tackles, so credit to both sides for a hard but fair game.”

Jamie Craddock’s tidy finish put Division 3 strugglers Rottingdean ahead after 15 minutes.

That lead lasted just five minutes though, as Nick Tilley saw a shot squirm under the visiting keeper and Saunders reacted first to make absolutely sure.

Billingshurst lost both Tilley and Richard Carter to old injuries inside the opening quarter of the game.

And Tilley’s replacement, Marcus Strevens made the vital contribution when he went round the keeper only to be cleaned out. The Rottingdean stopper was given his marching orders, although his outfield replacement got a hand on Groves’ penalty but not enough to keep it out.

In increasingly deteriorating conditions Hurst failed to profit further from their numerical advantage, but still comfortably set up a home semi-final with Southwick Reserves.

Billingshurst: Betts; Simmons, Lambkin, Groves, Carse; Hickling (Stepney 65), Tilley (Strevens 20), Carter (Geary 15), Lewis; Saunders, Annis