First Division

PSF – Cuxton 91 1-1 Larkfield & New Hythe

Saturday 10th July

Cuxton 91 1-1 Larkfield & New Hythe

Pre-season friendly

Match Report from Simon Baker for Non League Chronicles

So where, you may be asking,is Cuxton? For the uninitiated, it’s a village outside of Strood (and if you don’t know where Strood is – that’s where Rochester Utd play, obviously) and for any interested groundhoppers it is within walking distance of Cuxton train station or for those with their own vehicular mode of transport, a couple of minutes from the M2.

The ground is situated next to Cuxton Social Club, which provides all the facilities, bar the two container changing rooms next to it. The majority of the crowd gather on hard standing on a raised bank down one side of the pitch, which allows a decent view across the pitch to the tree lined touchline and houses beyond.

Visitors Larkfield & New Hythe are new entrants into the SCEFL division one this season, joining the collection of Step 5 & 6 clubs with ME postcodes which now numbers 7, along with Rochester Utd, Lordswood, K Sports, Snodland, Hollands & Blair and Chatham Town. The Larks ground has been massively enhanced, and just this week they had switched on their floodlights for the first time. They’ve also made several astute signings which suggest they are not just looking to make up the numbers this season.

I took up my place atop the raised banking, which bought back memories of a much loved trip to Brimscombe and Thrupp, home to the greatest grass banking in football, and watched the early exchanges, which suggested there was not a lot between the two sides at this early pre-season stage, despite the gap in divisions.
The Larks opened the scoring in 18 minutes with their first real attempt on goal, but shortly afterwards Cuxton could have levelled but the visiting keeper saved well with his feet. A header just wide and a blocked shot saw the Larks fail to increase their lead, and Cuxton progressively grew into the game, deservedly levelling on 32 minutes, when the Larks defence failed to clear their lines and a low shot on the turn nestled nicely into the the bottom corner.

Three minutes later they could have gone in front after a ball over the top undid the Larks defence, but the striker rushed his effort, which went high and wide. The referee had already been showing hints of eccentricity as we entered the last 10 minutes of the half (mostly a willingness to let fouls go) and we witnessed the interesting sight of the far side lino miming throw in for some seconds before the ref insisted on a goalkick (we all get those two mixed up for heaven’s sake).

Cuxton started the second period the brighter, and a left foot shot was well saved by the keeper 7 minutes in, before the same player slashed the rebound horribly wide. The visitors were getting visibly frustrated, and half their team went on a massive ranty appeal for a backpass after the Cuxton backline miss-controlled the ball in the general direction of their keeper, who unsurprisingly elected to pick it up. Definitely not a deliberate backpass, and an extraordinarily over the top reaction from the visitors.

On 59 minutes a fine curling shot was well saved by the Larks keeper, and this was to be the high water mark for Cuxton, who visibly began to tire as the game entered it’s final stages. A Cuxton player asked the ref how long to go, and seemed confused by the ref’s response that we were half way through – ‘What do you mean?’ He enquired, to the surprised official, who had to explain halfway through a half meant that was approximately 22 to go (well there was by the time he finished explaining it anyway). Shortly afterwards another Cuxton player had a f word laden rant at the ref, and should have at very least sin binned, but the ref elected to go with a not hugely animated telling off.

With 13 minutes to go a miscued clearance hit the upper branches of one of the trees which are tight to the far touchline, before bouncing back into play. The ref awarded a throw, much to the chagrin of the consistently vocal Cuxton number 9, who claimed the ball hadn’t gone out of play. Hard to judge from my position, but difficult to see how play could continue after a ricochet off a tree branch!

As the game entered the last 10 minutes the Larks number 15 was gobsmacked to see a yellow card waved in his general direction, but the ref quickly saw the error of his ways and waved at the Cuxton 15, who had actually committed the offence in question.

A minute later a tiny pitch invader almost halted proceedings, but was quickly scooped up by her dad. Cuxton almost nicked a win with a header which beat the keeper, hit the post and was the cleared off the line, but it was the visitors who finished the stronger, creating a flurry of chances which included one excellent save by the home keeper, and another effort off the woodwork.

Cuxton’s defence held out though, and a draw was probably a fair result from a game that gave a good run out to both teams.


Main Photo: The Gasworks End Twitter