Heath’s hopes of a spicy local derby in the final against Horsham YMCA were dashed last night at Culver Road, Lancing when Division One Champions and current cup holders East Preston ran out 1-0 winners against Steve Painters Broadbridge Heath.
Both teams had early goal scoring opportunities, Joe Shelley forced his way through the Heath defence only to be denied by goal keeper James Fisher’s point blank save, while at the other end Tiago Andrade and Piers McDermott combined well on the edge of the penalty area but the final McDermott shot went just wide of the post. Preston’s Charlie Oatway had a powerful shot from distance which went straight into Fisher’s arms, Heath’s Jake Holmes hit a cross/shot from wide on the left that hit the top of the cross bar and went out to safety and then Shelley was again denied by Fisher coming quickly off his line to smoother.
The only goal of the game was scored in the 28th minute, Preston were awarded a free kick wide on the left, Mike Huckett played a ball in towards the far post which somehow avoided all contact from forwards and defenders and ended up in the net. Heath responded well with Jake Holmes attacking down the left, he beat the fullback, cut inside and hit a right foot shot that dipped over the keeper and crashed against the underside of the bar and out.
Into the final 10 minutes of the half and McDermott tested the East Preston keeper from distance, Fisher was again out quickly to deny Shaheen Sadough and Shelley again tested Fisher with a long range effort.
Neither side created too many chances in the second period with Heath playing long balls into the East Preston defence but most were comfortably dealt with by Marc Pullan, Charlie Farmer and Danny Gainsford. Martyn Flack almost equalised when he steered a McDermott corner into the side netting just inches wide of the post. But the cup holders held firm and on balance of play probably deserve their day in the final against Horsham YMCA.
Steve Painter’s side end their season with a trip to Division Two champions Eastbourne United on Saturday knowing a point will be enough for them to be runners up.