Loxwood began their Southern Combination Football League campaign underway on Saturday with a trip to our friends at Worthing United, but were denied all three points at the very last.
Unlike the previous week, there was an open start to the match with both teams keen to ensure their start to the league season was a positive one. The visitors were able to find space out wide in the early exchanges but weren't able to exploit it as much as was hoped off. This failure to capitalise on a positive start had a predictable outcome, as in the 12th minute Chamal Fenelon beat Clyde Jacques down the left flank before putting in a cross that Harry Bachelor could only clear to the edge of the box where Alfred Gritt was waiting to clinically put the hosts ahead.
The youngster was soon to make amends though as after receiving the ball on the right hand side from Eddie French in the 34th minute he went on a mazy run from the halfway line and drove into the penalty area where he was brought down, prompting referee Lukasz Sipior to point to the spot. Mark Cave stepped up to calmly slot away his second penalty in two games into the bottom right hand corner and ensured that honours were even at the break
The second half swung more in the Magpies' favour, particularly with the introduction of Ollie Gill from the bench. The midfielder forced two good saves from Fraser Trigwell in the Mavericks' goal, firstly in a one-on-one situation and then from a rasping strike from long range. The pressure didn't tell, however, until the 79th minute when a Byron Napper corner was knocked down by Joel Colbran and fellow defender, Clyde Jacques (above) was on hand to uncompromisingly volley the visitors ahead.
Rather than sit back on the lead, The Magpies pushed to kill the game off and created further opportunities to do just that. Substitute Michael Wood had a header at the far post that went wide, whist French also went close with a head, but Trigwell was again equal to the task. Gill had time for another testing shot from distance, but the chances came and went untaken and it was eventually to prove costly.
In desperation, United fired a long ball into the penalty area in the 94th minute and when the danger was not suitably dealt with, Gritt was on hand again to take the opportunity presented to him and ensure that the opening day spoils were shared but the feelings of two sides on the result certainly weren't as equal.
The Magpies benefit from having another SCFL match hot on the heels of this as they host Shoreham on Tuesday 16 August for the first action of the season at Plaistow Road.
Team: Bachelor (Scally 80), Cave, Colbran, French (c), Jacques, House (Wood 59), Napper, Smith, Summerfield, Swaine (Gill 55) & Williams Subs unused: Haulkham & Hilfiker