Hailsham begin with defeat to Godalming
Hailsham Town opened the season with a 3-1 defeat at home to League new boys Godalming Town in a game that was in the balance until the final whistle.
The visitors, who have come into the league from the Combined Counties, started brightly without any real penetration, before Ellis Webster's cross was just about hooked to safety with Charlie Playford and Levi Sparks in close attendance.
It was Godalming who took the lead however, when a cross from the right was headed home by Jahobi Maher on 26. Hailsham almost hit back instantly - good work by Webster carving out an opportunity for Sammy Townsend, who was not far away with a rising drive from range, before another impressive Hailsham move, started with a superb crossfield ball from Rhys Taylor, broke down on the edge of the box.
Godalming's second came on 42, with Kurt Greenaway intercepting a loose pass to fire home from range, but with Playford's cross just evading Webster at the far post, there was a sense among the home support that proceedings were far from settled.
Hailsham's start to the second half was much stronger, and within two minutes they had pulled a goal back - Archie Guest's terrific run ending with a deep cross that Rhys Taylor headed home from close range. Taylor would then see an effort from the edge of the box held as Hailsham pushed, with Connor Townsend having, for the second time in as many games, a very good penalty shout waved away on 61.
The visitors too had occasional threats - a long range lob drifting wide on 65, and a free kick held by Wester Young shortly after, but it was not until the 87th minute when they finally secured the win, with a through ball finding sub James Frudd who netted with a well-taken chip. Hailsham would then come close after clever play from Taylor earned a free kick, with the visiting keeper Adrian Giles needing to stretch to punch clear.
Whilst it was a defeat, Hailsham can take heart from a gutsy, hardworking display, which on another day would have earned at least a point. The Stringers look to bounce back on Tuesday night when they host Shoreham in the Peter Bentley Cup First Round (7.30pm). The Under 23s are also in friendly action this week, hosting Punnetts Town on Wednesday (7.30).
Stringers: Young, A Guest (Cyprien 90), S Pout, Thomsett, Nicklin, S Townsend, Sparks (T Guest 65), Playford, C Townsend (Hughes 79), Taylor. Unused: Fox, Hathaway
Man of the Match: Jack Nicklin