Arundel 0 Midhurst & Easebourne 3 (31st July 2021)
With two options to choose from, the other being a match at Ramsgate, it was inevitable that I’d choose the one with fewer goals, but I didn’t count on one of the other reasons for picking Arundel, the shorter journey time, also being negated as well. Some heavy rain and some heavy traffic added 45 minutes to what was supposed to be a 75 minute journey, almost putting in doubt the deciding factor – a chance to have a look round Arundel Castle.
The fact that Arundel Castle was hosting a medieval event (falconly, axe throwing, food prices that were highway robbery) made the traffic even worse, but did add a bit to the day. It would have been nice if one of the castle windows or battlements had offered a view of the ground, handily just over the road, but you can’t have everything.
Other than one small but perfectly formed stand, and a covered area in one corner, there isn’t a vast amount to Arundel’s ground, but with the castle poking over the trees, plus glimpses of the South Downs in the other direction, on a surprisingly pleasant summer’s afternoon it doesn’t really matter. It’s a place to take a beer out and watch the game and enjoy the surroundings.
That said, there does seem to some kind of thatched yurt just beyond the fence in one corner, making it also feel like a continuation of the castle’s medieval theme. A white wood-panelled set of changing rooms looked like they be more at home next to a cricket pitch, while the far end had a long expanse of turf before the boundary fence, just big enough to make anyone stood there have to act as ballboy for any shot going over.
There was also what looked to be a tv gantry near the halfway line, strangely covered in camoflage webbing, as if it also concealed a hidden machine gun post, defending Arundel from airborne invaders.
In contrast to last week’s Met Police effort, Arundel’s programme contained no examples of a certain four-letter word beginning with ‘F’. It did, however, did include the line “We will be a very young talented squad but I’m sure you will appreciate the way they play football”, which is normally enough to have the odd alarm bell ringing at the start of the season.
“The Mullets” as Arundel are known (thankfully based on the fish, rather than the 80s fashion crime) did indeed look a reasonably young side, but they did start out acquitting themselves pretty well. The visitors, Midhurst, did look stronger, but in the first half anyway, it was Arundel who were generally having the better chances.
The best of these was 30 minutes into the first half, when a shot thudded against the bottom of the upright, and squirmed along the goal line. A tap-in looked inevitable, but brave Midhurst defending allowed a the ball to be cleared, and the defender bundled into the net instead.
Another Arundel effort was strongly saved, being turned onto the crossbar, shortly after, although Midhurst did have an effort ruled out for offside, albeit with the whistle clearly already gone.
It was looking like Arundel had enough sharpness to maybe nick the win, but the game turned just before half time when they had a player sent off for a “last man” foul. He didn’t really look clean through, and there was a ‘frank and robust’ discussion of the finer points of the ruling from both benches.
It took a long time for the extra man to really tell, but midway though the 2nd half two chances in succession were turned in by a Midhurst attack that previously had had “something we need to work on in training” stamped all over it.
As Arundel head’s understandably dropped, having worked so hard for so long, it didn’t take long for a third to be added, calmly sidefooted in at the back post. The keeper shouted at the defenders, the defenders shouted at other defenders, the ref, anyone who might hear really, and for a while it looked like it might be a case of how many.
That would have been very harsh on Arundel. True, their ‘top of the league after 0 games’ table in the match programme probably won’t feature Arundel in that position again, but they battled well, and did create some good chances, and might have got something out of the game 11 v 11. Midhurst, if they can get a bit sharper, could have a good season.