Iden progressed into the semi-finals of the Hastings Intermediate Cup and will face Westfield on April 4, after beating Hollington FC at home 3-1 on Saturday March 14. Goals from Rob Levett, Francis Walker and Sam Cooper ensured victory, much to the delight of manager Chip Winton, who had seen his team losing the previous five games by single goal deficits. Winton’s men provided him with an all round quality display of skill, determination, teamwork and fighting spirit.
A cagey start from each side saw few attacking opportunities to note, with the midfield trio of Iden captain Tom Harris, Justin Wall and Jake Bryant working tirelessly up and down the pitch forcing errors, making vital tackles, probing and pushing, trying to unlock the Hollington defence. When Hollington’s goal-scoring machine, Shane Ryan, raced through on the Iden goal mouth, Iden was fortunate he took a heavy touch, enabling Shane Ridgers to save well at his feet. A miss turned into a goal at the other end, courtesy of a superbly driven shot from Rob Levett and Sam Cooper passing inch perfect, with the veteran Levett not needing to break his stride to strike home: 1-0 to Iden.
The home side buzzed any Hollington attack, being sniffed out by man of the match, Rob Wilson, at the heart of the Iden defence. With Darren Warne, Francis Walker and Luke Willis making up the back four, they played pretty football when the time was right, yet simply “put their foot through it ” when they had too! Levett could have doubled Iden’s advantage on the stroke of half time when Chris Gould, the provider of a pin-point cross, found Levett unmarked. Levett attempted what they call a “bicycle kick”, but administered something between a unicycle and a penny farthing, where a simple header would have done the business. Half time came still at 1-0 to Iden.
The way the game was, Iden knew they had a great chance of victory, yet Hollington always have great self-belief and never give up until the game is finished. The balance of possession favoured Hollington but, as in the first half, Iden was solid in defence, restricting the away side to long shots and hopeful crosses. When Iden attacked, in truth they looked very dangerous; the front three having different attributes they carved out some great chances. Right back big Francis Walker showed them where the net was with a diving header from a Cooper corner, a goal totally deserved, making Iden 2-0 up. Captain Harris was instrumental in midfield: simply give him the ball and he doesn’t lose it, although he is prone to injury. After a hefty challenge though, the captain was left struggling. A lapse in concentration and a wicked deflection aided the away side to score over the flapping Ridgers, cutting Iden’s winning margin: 2-1 Iden.
Now, Hollington was fired up and it was only heroic defending for a five-minute spell that kept them at bay. An offside decision mistakenly awarded in Iden’s favour enraged the away squad. With the Hollington players not focused on the game, Sam Cooper raced through to lob the ball smoothly over the keeper: 3-1 Iden. With only five minutes remaining, Winton replaced the injured Harris as a precautionary measure. Gould had a chance at the end but a touch too many removed the strike. Final whistle: Iden 3 Hollington 1. Man of the match went to the returning Rob Wilson, although the manager stated that all his players deserved the honour.
Hollington FC gave Iden every wish in the next round and were gracious in defeat, so top respect for them. Iden also welcome back for the remainder of the season Alfie Weller, a goalscoring machine, who has also played centre back and goalkeeper in previous outings for the side.
The Iden squad included: Ridgers, Walker, Warne, Wilson, Willis, Bryant, Harris, (Winton) Wall, Gould, Levett, and Cooper; sub (not used) Oakman