A Mark Cave penalty sixteen minutes from time earned Loxwood the local bragging rights for the second time this season, as they completed the league double over YM with 1-0 win at Plaistow Road on Saturday.
Just a single goal separated the two sides this time around, as Peter Buckland’s YM sought to avenge the embarrassing 7-0 home defeat suffered in the reverse fixture at Gorings Mead in September.
Neither goalkeeper was truly tested during a tight and often fragmented affair played on a progressively difficult surface, as both sides struggled to create many clear cut opportunities on goal.
Despite a dominant second half showing from YM, the three points were in the end decided when visitors’ midfielder Luke Gedling clumsily tripped Loxwood substitute Michael Wood in the penalty area, and fellow sub Mark Cave coolly converted the resulting spot kick.
The defeat sees Loxwood leap above YM in the table, with Buckland’s side slipping to eleventh in the Division 1 standings and without a win in 2015.
The YM boss commented: “I think the game just reflected the way our season has gone. I can be disappointed but I can’t be upset because the players put in a good shift and we were the best team.
“Sometimes the best team doesn’t win a game of football. I could not see them scoring without the penalty. The worst we should have come away from here with today was a 0-0.
“We hit the bar and I think we had a clear cut penalty and that would have given us what we deserved, which was at minimum a draw out of the game. But when you’re on a run like Loxwood are, your luck goes for you, and when you’re in a bit of a rut like we are, the luck always goes against you.”
Loxwood, who this week reached the final of the Sussex RUR Charity Cup with a 2-0 win over Crowborough Athletic, started brightly and threatened during the early exchanges.
Former Crawley Town, Lewes and YM youth team midfielder Alex Malins half volleyed inches wide of the far post from the edge of the area, before another former face of Gorings Mead, Dean Wright, was released clean through on goal, but was thwarted by the legs of visitors’ stopper Simon Lockwood.
YM’s only two opportunities during the opening forty-five minutes came in the final seven minutes, but were little more than half chances.
An often isolated Nick Sullivan cut in from the left and fired low at Loxwood ‘keeper Sam Smith, who comfortably held the striker’s effort at the near post, before youngster Josh Brown tamely headed an Ashley Dugdale cross on goal but his effort also failed to trouble Smith.
Other than a deflected Shaun Findlay strike for the home side that flew just wide of the far post shortly after the restart, the second half belonged to YM in terms of opportunities created.
Dan Sullivan rifled against the crossbar from twenty yards after some great work from brother, Nick, before Anthony Hibbert fired over when well placed two minutes later, as the pressure from the visitors built.
But Buckland’s side were then dealt a killer blow against the run of play with quarter of an hour to go. Loxwood substitute Wood all too easily marauded infield from the right flank and was then clumsily tripped by YM midfielder Gedling as he surged into the penalty area.
Referee Chris Hamilton had no option but to point to the spot and another of the hosts’ replacements, Cave, beat Lockwood from twelve yards to put his side in front.
YM could have snatched a point late on when Taylor Smith’s low drive was well parried by his namesake in the home goal and Hibbert also had a drilled effort from twelve yards saved, but in the end it was Loxwood who once again claimed the local bragging rights. Boss Buckland concluded: “In other games we’ve shot ourselves in the foot, but today we didn’t and we played well. We had a game plan and we stuck to it. Loxwood’s game is set pieces and we defended them and they’re quick on the break and we sorted that out.
“We stopped them playing their normal game and were working our way into the game and then we give away a stupid penalty with quarter of an hour to go. We’re just not getting the rub of the green. It’s as simple as that. Any bit of bad luck going around, we get. People will say that they’ve heard it all before when we’ve lost a game, but we just don’t seem to be able to get that little bit of luck that makes a difference during a game.
“I was very pleased with our response after recent results. I was pleased with the performance, but where we go from here, I don’t know. The players are a good bunch of lads and I still think they’re a top four side, I really do, but it just hasn’t happened of late. We’ve got four good games coming up now where I’d like to think we could come up with four victories and take some respectability out of the season.”