The Magpies were looking to put Saturday's disappointment of the last gasp draw at Eastbourne Town behind them when they hosted Broadbridge Heath on Tuesday night in a Peter Bentley League Cup quarter final derby. The injury sustained by Yassin Raman and Jay Lovett's delayed arrival for the game meant that the only changes in personnel was them being replaced by Joel Colbran and Eddie French as the hosts looked to extend their unbeaten run to 11 games. From the first minute it was clear that the visitors were keen to press the ball high up the pitch, but despite a couple of nervy moments, this was navigated fairly well and in fact it was the other end that saw the first meaningful action when in the 5th minute Cave drove forwards and shot at goal which was fumbled by Heath ‘keeper Michael Chester but he managed to recover before Charlie Pitcher could seize on the opportunity.
Three minutes later Cave was in the action again when he cleverly slipped Michael Wood in down the right from a free kick and was then in the box to get on the end of the resulting cross but his snap shot went wide. Another chance for the Magpies was tamely executed when Colbran found Pitcher who rolled his marker well but his shot was straight at Chester who comfortably fielded it this time.
The tide then began to turn. Jamal Sultan saw his ambitious overhead kick from a corner go well wide, but he was soon involved again when in the 17th minute he fed off Tiago Andrade on the counter attack to get away from Colbran before setting up the overlapping Rob Godfrey who expertly curled the ball into the far corner to give the Bears the lead.
The problems doubled just two minutes later when Lewis Scally gave away a free kick in a central area just 22 yards out and Andrade stepped up to hammer the ball into the net with Harrison Hilfiker unable to react quick enough in the Loxwood goal. Although there was an immediate reaction when Toby House’s effort from 25 yards was once again parried out and Jon Dollery couldn’t quite capitalise, this quick-fire setback took some time for the Magpies to recover from and similarly the visitors were in no mood to risk letting them back in. As such it wasn’t until the 41st minute that another clear opportunity arose when Clyde Jacques crossed from the right back position and the ball was played back to Byron Napper but his shot went a couple of yards wide.
A minute later Dollery had another sight of goal but his effort didn’t really trouble Chester but a minute before half time his heart was in his mouth when a short corner enabled Cave to put in an in swinging cross and when Marlon Maxwell chose to leave the ball at the last moment the Heath ‘keeper did well to adjust and gather to ensure the score remained 0-2 at half time.
Despite the apparent need for a swift reaction at the start of the second half it was actually the visitors that started it the brighter with the introduced Scott Weller in the midst of the action. In the 48th minute he delivered a dangerous free kick that Hilfiker fumbled and Clyde Jacques did well to thwart Tim Martin when he was slipped in behind afterwards. In the 59th minute Weller advanced on goal after Dollery lost the ball and although Scally shepherded him wide he still got a shot off, which deflected off Hilfiker onto the post before rebounding kindly straight back to the ‘keeper to gather.
The Magpies were struggling to create any chances of real note and indeed it looked like they’d go further behind in the 67th minute when Heath substitute Jake Holmes got in behind Jacques but his effort was well smothered by Hilfiker. The hosts changed their shape with the introduction of Rhyan Ramsey and Cecil Jee in the 73rd minute and it nearly had an immediate effect when fellow substitute Lovett found space to line up a shot from distance, but despite its power it was too close to Chester who took it well.
A home corner was well forced in the 80th minute but Cave’s exceptional deliver somehow flew through the 6 yard area evading everyone and the chance was lost and Heath launched a well worked move from the goal kick that resulted in Weller setting up Ollie Moore, but his effort was well wide.
As the hosts pressed more desperately for a way back into the game they unsurprisingly became more susceptible to the counterattack and it was nearly all over in the 87th minute when Sultan easily outpaced Scally down the right flank before cutting inside but Hilfiker closed the angle well and blocked the effort behind for a corner.
Added time saw another Loxwood corner won, which was taken short by Cave enabling Pitcher to find space and shoot but his goal bound effort was well blocked for another corner, which was crossed in for Jee to rise but his header went tamely wide with what proved to be the last home chance of the night. It wasn’t, however, the final action of the match as there was just enough time for Sultan to get away down the right again and his dangerous cross caused a collision between Hilfiker and Jacques, but somehow the waiting Holmes was unable to turn the opportunity home.
This was a disappointing night for the Magpies as aside from a poor couple of minutes in the first half, this was a well contested, if somewhat uneventful match-up between two quite even teams, but credit to the visitors who were able to secure their deserved lead in an organised and professional manner. Team: Cave, Colbran (Ramsey 73), Dollery, French, Hilfiker, House (Lovett 55), Jacques, Lovett, Napper, Pitcher, Scally & Wood (Jee 73) Subs unused: Daniel & Enticknap