Loxwood get back to winning ways against in-form Heath

Loxwood FC V Arundel (Pic by Jon Rigby) SUS-150510-170042008
Loxwood FC V Arundel (Pic by Jon Rigby) SUS-150510-170042008

Loxwood got back to winning ways as they overcame a below-par Broadbridge Heath side 2-1 at Plaistow Road.

The early festive Southern Combination League Premier Division derby fixture saw the Magpies end a run of three straight defeats, while the Bears tasted defeat for just the second time in nine games in all competitions.

The visitors took the lead after just three minutes through a fine striker from Stuart Chester, but Loxwood went on to net twice before the break though Sam Beard and Harry Bachelor.

It was an off day for Heath, who looked a step off their normal pace and struggled in the final third, while Loxwood looked back to their old selves with their sharp passing play.

The home side had duel-signed midfielder Ryan Richefond available despite playing 90 minutes for Worthing on Sunday, while captain Eddie French dropped to the bench.

Heath had four missing, but Kieron Purkis returned from injury to spearhead the attack in a side that hadn’t played since December 12 due to two postponements.

But it was Steve Painter’s side that got off to the better start as they pressed the home side from the kick-off and eventually won a throw deep in the opposition’s half.

A quickly-taken one from the right saw Stuart Chester steal a march on his man in the middle of the pitch and he calmly stroked into the top corner past Harry Hilfiker from 25 yards.

It was however, all Loxwood after that and they deservedly equalised on nine minutes as good work from Michael Wood down the left saw him pick out Jon Nurse, who in turn found Beard, who tapped home beyond Michael Chester.

The impressive Tom Summerfield then played a one-two on the edge of the box and dragged wide, while Lewis Scally headed over from a Bachelor corner.

Heath then enjoyed a good spell which saw Kieron Purkis cut back for Ollie Moore after a free-kick, but the midfielder’s effort was headed away.

The visitor’s best chance saw Andy Waddingham somehow side foot wide from the edge of the area after a square ball across the box.

That missed chance would come back to haunt them a minute later as a lofted through ball by Summerfield saw Bachelor spring the offside trap and slot home when one on one.

Nurse then broke through to finish from a Charlie Pitcher flick, but the flag was up for offside, while Stuart Chester produced a superb stop to push away Beard’s effort at his near post.

On the stroke of half-time a corner from Heath substitute Piers McDermott was flicked goalwards by Martyn Flack and cannoned off a defender and went narrowly wide.

After the break, Michael Chester again made a fine save, this time to deny Bachelor a second as he picked Andy Howard’s pocket an attempted a lobbed shot.

After a well-contested first half, the second saw limited chances and a bit of an attritional battle in midfield.

Pitcher fired into the side netting and substitute Mark Cave beat the offside trap, but his flicked effort dropped just wide.

Heath’s best chance saw a ball drop to Flack on the edge of the box and his half volley crashed wide.

Loxwood had decent shouts for a penalty waved away on 84 minutes as Flack body-checked Bachelor in the box, before the hosts threw men forwards in the closing minutes.

Their best chance from a good delivery from the left saw a header from a well-placed Flack drop harmlessly wide as the Magpies saw out the three added minutes.

Loxwood: Hilfiker, Holvey, Courtney, Scally, Summerfield, Wood (Pitcher 26), Richefond, Simpson (Cave 69, Swaine 84), Beard, Bachelor, Nurse. Unused subs: French, Jee.

Broadbridge Heath: M.Chester, Wicking, Howard, Flack, Robinson, Legrange, S.Chester (Clark 65), Moore, Waddingham, Weller (McDermott 36), Purkis. Unused subs: Lewington, Wragg.