Loxwood 3, Littlehampton 2: Magpies edge out improving Golds

Loxwood manager Mark Beard
Loxwood manager Mark Beard

Loxwood edged out Littlehampton in a thriller at Plaistow Road tonight as they made it six wins on the bounce in all competitions.

The inform Magpies came out 3-2 victors from the Southern Combination League Premier Division clash after a frantic second 45 minutes.

Reigning champions Golds will count themselves unlucky not to have taken a point from the game as they continued to show much improvement after a torrid start to the campaign.

The visitors hit back from 2-0 down to level early in the second half, but substitute Cecil Gee’s 53rd-minute strike proved the winner despite Golds spurning chances to level and Loxwood passing up late chance on the counter attack.

After a fairly even start with both sides knocking the ball around fluently, returning Golds stopper Jon Hendrick gifted the hosts the lead on 15 minutes.

He dropped a Sam Beard free-kick onto the head of a Loxwood player and it fell for Charlie Pitcher to stroke into an empty net.

Three minutes later it was 2-0 as Beard got away down the left and his low cross was pushed out by Hendrick into the path of Ollie Gill, who made no mistake from 12 yards.

Golds then got a foot in the game as Brad Curtis’ cross-shot was hooked off the line by Beard before they levelled somewhat fortunately on 26 minutes.

Peter Beadle latched onto a deep free-kick and somehow didn’t hit the target, but the ball flew across goal hit Ryan Richefond and despite Sam Smith making a point-blank save, Scott Packer followed up to head home.

Just past the half-hour mark, Lewis Scally headed the ball into the path of George Landais and his pass found Danny Hand, who struck into the bottom corner, but the flag was up for offside.

A minute later, Landais himself went through one on one, but dragged harmlessly wide.

Six minutes before half-time, Hendrick made up for his earlier error as he tipped over Mark Cave’s effort which was flying for the top corner after Josh Bates headed the ball down to him.

Golds levelled just three minutes after the break as a Packer cross from the right found Brad Curtis, who bundled past Smith from close range.

Danny Hand then had an effort off the line from a cut-back, before Loxwood retook the lead on 53 minutes.

Joe Holvey’s ball found half-time substitute Gee, who got it over the last defender and then flicked over Hendrick and across the line, despite Golds’ efforts to clear.

The visitors then threw everything at the home side often leaving just two at the back, but Loxwood defended astutely.

There were undone by player-manager George Gaskin, who came off the bench to put fellow replacement Ben Gray though on goal for their best chance, but he somehow shot wide.

In the closing stages on the break from his own half, Richefond out muscled two defenders before seeing his cross-shot go agonisingly wide, while Gill put a tame effort at Hendrick and then fired against the post.

Deep into injury-time, Ross McKay’s header from a great cross flew behind off a defender and the corner was cleared as Loxwood held out.

Loxwood: Smith, Holvey, French, Scally, Beard, Summerfield (Swain 55), Richefond, Gill, Cave (Simpson 71), Wood (Gee 45), Pitcher. Unused: Batchelor, Coles.

Littlehampton: Hendrick, Wiggans, McKay, Bates, M.Hand, D.Hand (Hutchings 61), Humphreys (Gray 74), Curtis, Beadle, Packer (Gaskin 74), Landais. Unused: Bell, Janman.