Hailsham Town bounced back from Saturday’s FA Vase exit to win 4-1 at Mile Oak despite missing three key players.
Skipper Ashley Jarvis, defensive lynchpin Paul Richardson and Jamie Salvidge were all missing, but the Stringers proved their strength in depth with a convincing win.
“We are starting to play some decent football from back to front” said manager Kenny McCreadie. “There’s goals in this team; we are creating a lot of chances and it’s good to watch.
“Without being disrespectful Mile Oak is not the easiest place to go but the boys adapted well to the poor playing conditions.”
There’s certainly goals in Danny Leach, whose second half penalty took his tally to 14 for the season, leaving the Stringers with the best goal difference in the league.
But the hero of Wednesday night was Ryan Fletcher who scored two goals and made one. “He’s one of the best midfielders in the county,” enthused McCreadie.
The Stringers began brightly, and opened the scoring on 10 minutes when great work by Shane Saunders saw the ball cut back to Leach, returning after missing two games with tonsilitis, who fired home from close range.
The hosts could have levelled almost immediately. Russell Tanner was forced into a terrific save before first Stuart Lewis and then Shane Saunders saw chances hacked off the line and hit the post respectivly.
Saunders did get his name on the scoresheet midway through the first half, taking advantage of some defensive hesitancy to smash home from outside the box, before Fletcher made it three on 43 minutes, again netting from distance.
Less than two minutes later and just before the break, Oak pulled one back with a shot from the angle that looped into the roof of the net from some way out.
Hailsham began the second half very brightly, Saunders being close to adding to his tally inside the opening seconds, while Alex Atrill was desperately unlucky not to score, shooting just over, after beating three players.
Hailsham did make it four on 63 minutes. Danny Leach was tripped and then converted the resulting spot kick.
It could have been more as great work by subs Liam Beckett and Danny Stevens saw the latter shoot just over, while Leach had a further effort ruled out by the offside flag.
Overall, it was a fine performance by a Stringers side who never allowed their opponents to settle on the ball on the sloping Recreation Ground pitch. There were stand-out performances all over the park.
Hailsham: Tanner 8, Norman 7 (Danny Stevens 70), Ottley 7, Earley 8, Lewis 8, Fletcher 9*, Atrill 7, Dean Stevens 7, Saunders 8 (Skan 82), Leach 8, Jacob Stevens 7 (Beckett 70). MoM: Ryan Fletcher.
Paul Richardson returns for tomorrow’s league game at Midhurst & Easebourne, while Ashley Jarvis and possibly Jamie Salvidge should be also back for the John O’Hara Cup tie at home to Oakwood on Tuesday.
After Wednesday’s night’s resounding win, McCreadie could be having selection problems of a happier kind.