Nine-man Langney were denied a draw at home to Newhaven, thanks to a last-minute penalty, in what will prove one of the more memorable games of the season, writes Ryan Newman.
In-form Newhaven came into the game looking for their fifth straight win whilst Langney, who have proved hard to beat this season, were still looking for their first win of the Southern Combination Premier campaign.
It was the visitors who slightly shaded the opening of the game and created the first goalscoring opportunity when Tristan Jarvis tried his luck from range and stung the palms of Langney goalkeeper Dan Hutchins, who would go on to have an unbelievably good game.
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Three minutes later, the Wanderers created their first opportunity, but Tyler Capon’s curling effort was straight at Jake Buss in the Newhaven goal.
After 14 minutes, Langney’s Wayne Wilkinson picked up the games first yellow card as a result of a lunging tackle.
Just a minute later, Newhaven talisman Lee Robinson would go close with an attempted bicycle kick after a long free-kick was floated in and nodded down in his direction, but his effort went harmlessly wide.
Just before the half-hour mark, a goalmouth scramble ensued after Langney were unable to clear their lines from a corner. Newhaven’s Robbie Keith’s initial header was saved before his follow-up volley was magnificently blocked on the line.
Wilkinson would then see red for another lunging tackle in which he appeared to make full contact with the ball. However, the referee decided excessive force was used and so brandished a second yellow card for the Langney talisman. Newhaven’s Jarvis and Kyle Woolven would receive yellow cards as a result of the ensuing melee that occurred immediately after the Wilkinson tackle, despite the latter appearing to use two hands to shove Wilkinson to the ground.
Newhaven’s Matt Gunn would then receive a caution as a result of throwing the ball out of the stadium in protest at a corner being given to the Wanderers before the half-time whistle blew.
Langney started the second-half with ten men much better than they had the first with 11 but did have Hutchins to thank for a good save to deny Woolven from distance shortly before the hour mark.
However, Newhaven would be gifted the best opportunity of the game so far to take the lead when Luke Denton was adjudged to have pulled the shirt of a Newhaven player in the box and the referee pointed to the spot.
Lee Robinson stepped up and tried to place the ball low to Hutchins’ left but the Langney goalkeeper made a fine save and quickly got up to smother the rebound and give the Wanderers hope.
Langney would then be reduced to nine men when Denton was given a second yellow card after overrunning the ball and lunging to keep possession. Wanderers captain Paul Rogers would also see yellow for dissent after expressing his dismay at the decision.
Astonishingly, nine-man Langney would take the lead just six minutes later thanks to a wonderful goal.
Capon picked up the ball in central midfield before turning and driving at the Newhaven defence and playing in Gary Ingram, who subsequently drove at his full-back before cutting back inside from the left and unleashing a venomous strike from the corner of the box that went in off the near-post.
The Wanderers lead would last just three minutes as Newhaven substitute Seb Saunders would slot home from close range after Woolven’s initial shot was well saved by Hutchins.
Langney would then see out almost all of the remaining 15 minutes plus stoppage time with a mixture of magnificent defending and poor Newhaven finishing.
Woolven had a curling effort from distance tipped over the bar before Newhaven substitute directed a free header from close range straight at Hutchins in the closing minutes.
Langney thought they had snatched it at the death when a deep free-kick was headed down by captain Paul Rogers, but Adam Davidson’s wonderful hooked half-volley effort was tipped over.
In the dying seconds of the game, Newhaven were given a second penalty when Gary Ingram was adjudged to have fouled Oliver Davies despite the linesman being a lot closer to the incident and not waving his flag.
Robinson stepped up a second time and this time sent Hutchins the wrong way to snatch all three points with virtually the last kick of the game.
“Regardless of the things that have happened tonight that are a little bit beyond our control, I can’t fault the attitude of my team against a quality side like Newhaven,” said a distraught Andy Goodchild.
“I have got no complaints about the first red card. Wayne plays with passion and that is his big strength in his game. I think he just needed to tone it down a notch or two after he got the first yellow. Even the referee said he got the whole ball, but the referee felt it was too aggressive.
“I thought it was a foul for Luke’s second yellow card but not a bookable offence. The referee has said to me afterwards that he thought it was a dirty game. I didn’t think it was at all. Football is a physical, contact sport and it was played tonight between two teams who looked to play decent football and entertain the people who have payed money to come through the gate.
“The linesman didn’t give the penalty at the end. It felt as though others have conspired against us tonight when the boys have given everything for a point and I told them we need to take that team spirit into every game.
“Not a great deal went wrong tactically tonight. It is just so difficult when you have to rearrange things with ten men and then again with nine.”
Next up for Langney is a trip to bottom of the table Loxwood this Saturday and Goodchild says he is desperate to pick up all three points for the first time this season.