Broadbridge Heath 2-0 Wick & Barnham
The score might suggest a comfortable win for Heath who move up to third above Haywards Heath Town on goal difference but for most of the game the match was evenly balanced and only some inspired substitutions swung the game in Heath’s favour.
In the first half both sides played some good football from box to box but neither team could find that killer pass to put their forwards through and so chances were few and far between, Jamal Sultan had one effort from distance that went wide of the post and Steven Menzies had the best chance for the visitors but his shot went straight into the arms of Heath goalkeeper Matt Smith, standing in for the unavailable James Fisher.
The best chance of the half fell to Heath just before the break when a long Dan Attwater throw found its way to Tiago Andrade who turned and shot from 10 yards but the Wick keeper reacted superbly to push the effort out to safety.
The second half followed a similar pattern, Sultan did well wide on the left when he dribbled past two defenders and hit a right foot shot that went just wide of the post but the best chance fell to a Wick striker who beat the Heath offside but his shot was saved brilliantly by Smith who’d rushed out of goal to narrow the angle and save.
At this stage Wick looked the side more likely to score but on 79 minutes a Heath corner from the left was crossed into the penalty area by Piers McDermott and Andy Waddingham rose above everyone to power a header into the net. For the first time in the match the visitors’ defence suddenly looked vulnerable with the pace of Michael Wood on the left and trickery of Sultan on the right causing them all sorts of problems, and when another McDermott corner from the left was only cleared as far as James Day, the centre-back immediately played it wide right to Sultan who took it round the defender to the byline and then picked out Jake Holmes running in on the edge of the box and his first time right foot shot was hit low through a crowded penalty area into the net to secure the points.
A game that Heath were not at their best and at times some of the players looked tired but take nothing away from Wick & Barnham, over the two league games there’s been little between the two sides and I fully expect Jon Tucker’s team to secure a top-six placing by the end of the season.
Broadbridge Heath: Smith, Etherington, Attwater, Day, Howard, Godfrey, Bidgood (McDermott 65), Waddingham, Andrade (Holmes 73), Purkis (Wood 77), Sultan.