SIDLESHAM clinched the Sussex League division-three title by winning at TD Shipley then coming through a nervous hour waiting to hear if rivals Haywards Heath had handed them the honour.
The Sids went into this final match of the season with three players out and two carrying knocks, knowing there was no room for any slipups.
They began to create chances but a combination of nerves and poor finishing were letting them down. The Sids were pushing forward in search of a goal but it was not until the 37th minute that a TD defender was adjudged to have handled the ball in the area.
Gary Jones put the ball out of the keeper’s reach to put the Sids 1-0 ahead and you could sense the relief among the players. Neither side looked at ease but the second half saw the Sids up their game, looking for a second goal to give themselves a
chance to relax.
But they had to wait until the 65th minute when, from a corner, Billy Chatfield rose above everybody to power home a fine headed goal.
Within three minutes, Dan Bassil scored to put the Sids 3-0 up.
Now it was a matter of seeing the match out but the Sids conceded a penalty for handball on 88 minutes to allow TD a consolation.
As the match had started a hour before Haywards Heath’s, they had to wait for their result to come through. They learned Heath were only drawing - enough for Sids to claim the title - so after a nerve-racking wait, the Heath result - 1-1 - came through and the Sids were league champions.
League representatives visited the club a little later to present the cup to the Sids - a great day for everybody involved with the football club.
Sids have decided not to accept promotion to division two this season and will instead have another year in division three while pressing ahead with work on their ground.
SIDS: Arnell, Jones, Carrigher, Hounsome, Chatfield, Grantham, Platt, Bassil, Barnes, Newman, Phillips. Subs: Raven, Low.
Haywards Heath 1 Sidlesham 0
The Sids knew last Tuesday’s game was one of their biggest of the season against the only team who could prevent them from being league champions.
The Heath put the Sids under pressure and never allowed them to settle.
The Sids were playing a containing game and got to half-time with the scores level.
The second half saw the Sids up their game but they were not making any headway and on 68 minutes, the Heath broke forward and from the left a ball was played across the goal where an unmarked Heath forward headed home to put them 1-0 up.
On 75 minutes a Heath player went in with a late challenge on Gary Jones, who over-reacted, and the referee had no choice but to send both players off.
The match ended with Sids suffering only their second league defeat of the season.
SIDS: Arnell, Millins, Brown, Jones, Grantham, Hounsome, Phillips, Bassil, Barnes, Platt, Newman. Subs: Carrigher, Chatfield, Raven.