Hailsham Town lost out in a hard fought but entertaining contest at a chilly Beaconsfield on Bank Holiday Monday.
A first half own goal from Dean Stevens was followed by a cracking 60th strike from Ryan Bradley as Peacehaven, who played the entire second half with 10-men, held on for a deserved victory against Kenny McCreadie’s men.
Luke Denton did pull a slightly fortuitous goal back towards the end but ultimately the Stringers will look back with regret on slack defending and wasteful finishing particularly during the first half.
Hailsham looked impressive early on and a midfield that included Luke Denton, Ashley Jarvis and Simon Catt dominated the opening exchanges.
Denton ghosted through the visitors’ defence but his shot was expertly beaten away by impressive Peachaven ‘keeper Joe Adams.
Hailsham left-back Craig Ottley had an inswinging corner kick cleared off the line before Jamie Salvidge’s glancing header flashed just wide from Denton’s cross.
The best chance fell to Ashley Jarvis but the experienced midfielder blasted high and wide from close range.
Another cross from Denton picked out winger Mark French but his looping header cannoned back off the cross bar.
Peachaven finally had an effort on goal after 40 minutes. A long ball caught out the static Hailsham defence and Rob O’Toole’s effort was bravely blocked by the advancing Russ Tanner.
But two minutes later the visitors took the lead. Clive Snell delivered the corner and O’Toole’s goal bound flick took a deflection off Stevens and beyond Tanner. It could have been worse for Hailsham when Paul Richardson was adjudged to have fouled Tom Levitt in the box but Snell’s weak penalty trickled wide off the post.
Ashley Jarvis hobbled off with a groin injury and was replaced by brother Tristan. The visitors were then reduced to 10-men as O’Toole received a straight red for an ugly high challenge on Richardson. Richardson required lengthy treatment but battled on while Steve Early was booked as he remonstrated with the referee.
In the second half the anticipated Hailsham onslaught never arrived. Peacehaven held their nerve and remained organised. All too often Jamie Salvidge was isolated up front as Mark Goodwin, who seemed to be floating around in a free role, and French offered little support.
Tristan Jarvis showed some good touches on the right flank and the tricky youngster was unlucky to see his angled 20-yard drive crash back off the woodwork.
The next goal was going to be crucial and, unfortunately for Kenny McCreadie’s men, it went Peacehaven’s way.
Another long ball caught the home defence napping and Bradley’s instinctive right-footed drive from 20-yards arrowed into the top corner leaving Tanner with no chance.
Sam Schaff came on for French as Hailsham pushed forward. The referee evened up the penalty count on 70 minutes as Richardson received the slightest of tugs from a Peacehaven defender when climbing for a header.
Salvidge’s spot kick was placed low and heading for the corner but Adams was down superbly to deny the former Eastbourne Town striker.
Denton scrambled a goal from close range after Tristan Jarvis’ scuffed corner somehow found a path through.
Denton whistled a freekick just wide of the post but a decent Peacehaven side held on and extended their unbeaten run to eight matches.
The Stringers are currently fourth from in the table after 19 games on 20 points
HAILSHAM: Tanner 6, Stevens 6, Ottley 6, Richardson 6, Early 6, A Jarvis 6 (T Jarvis 7), Denton 7, Catt 7, Salvidge 6, French 6 (Schaff 6), Goodwin 6. MOM: Luke Denton - grabbed a goal and provided a few decent crosses. Booked: Richardson, Early. Goals: Denton 87.
Ref: Frank Meilack.