Broadbridge Heath dropped two points when they failed to take advantage of the lion’s share of possession and numerous chances against a determined Arundel team who showed the spirit that had previously gained them a point at high flying Pagham despite playing much of the game with ten men.
The game may well be remembered for a farcical period of right minutes when there was no football after one of the referees assistant's refused to let Heath sub Tim Cook on to the pitch.
It later transpired that he did not have the right name in his notebook.
This came at a time when Arundel were under immense pressure and the halt to Heath’s momentum led to great frustration. No sooner had Referee Ian Holmwood sorted out the problem than the linesman was again stopping the resumption of play after he heard a comment apparently directed towards him from the bench.
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After much confusion Charlie Pitcher was sent from the dugout despite the management of both teams informing the officials that Pitcher had not made any comment. It is likely that the club will appeal to sort out the confusion.
The game had started with Heath having the vast majority of possession with Devon Fender, Tim Rivers and George Cousins going close with Arundel being saved by goal line clearances and excellent goalkeeping from Dan Stevens.
Heath had a penalty appeal award turned down after Rivers appeared to be fouled and after Fender was forced off with an injury, his replacement, Ollie Moore’s pass backwards was turned by a goalwards by a defender, putting Rivers clean through only for the assistant to flag for offside.
Despite having most of the play they were nearly caught on several occasions by Arundel breaks leading to an important save from Kieron Thorp and then a shot rebounding from the underside of the bar and bouncing the right side of the line from Heaths point of view. Max Howell also had to join the ‘off the line club’ with a double clearance after the visitors had broken swiftly from a Heath corner.
Heath had been playing into a low sun and against a stiff breeze which was causing problems when dealing with balls in the air and one of these led to Arundel taking the lead. A cross to the far post saw Leach unable to see it until the last moment and it bounced off his shin and dribbled across the goal creeping in at the opposite post despite the sprawling efforts of Thorp.
Heath began the second half with renewed determination and pinned the visitors back for much of the half but with Jordan Dudas marshalling his defenders well the equaliser was not going to come easily.
More scrambles and six yard box clearances led to a stream of corners and it was from one of these the bears eventually broke through. Bold’s corner was headed goalwards by Martyn Flack only to be blocked by a defender but as he fell Flack managed to drill the rebound into the bottom corner. With 3 minutes remaining Heath went in search of the winner and again missed a series of clear and half chances.
Max Howell had a shot blocked, Moore’s shot was inches wide and Rivers had a handful of shots that were just too high. George cousins was causing havoc running at his marker and often getting deep into the Arundel penalty area and from one of these the ball was scrambled off the line by a combination of Stevens and and Dudas. In the final seconds Cousins broke through again and Stevens came flying out bravely at the Heath man’s feet.
Cousins slipped the ball back for Moore whose shot was blocked but meanwhile the Arundel goalkeeper’s momentum had taken him straight through Cousins leaving him in a heap on the ground. However referee Holmwood, who had controlled the game well in difficult circumstances, felt there was no foul.
The final whistle went shortly after and Heath had to be content with a draw, when by taking just one more of their chances they would have found themselves in the top six of the Premier Division which has been the stated aim for this year.
Heath: Thorp, Leach, Robinson, Waddingham, Flack, Howard-Bold, Carney, Cousins, Fender(Moore), Rivers, Howell(Cook.)
Unused Subs: Pitcher, Wright, Woodburn.