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County championship: Ton-up van Zyl guides Sussex to vital victory over Durham

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Stiaan van Zyl scored an unbeaten century to guide Sussex to their first Specsavers County Championship Division Two victory of the season, defeating Durham by six wickets at Emirates Riverside

Beginning the final day on 144-3, the visitors still had a challenge to score the 68 runs that would carry them over the line on a gloomy morning. Van Zyl contiuned brilliant knock second innings, defying the hosts with a resilient performance before upping the ante.

Laurie Evans did offer a chance in the morning session when he drilled a Chris Rushworth delivery straight to Jack Burnham at cover. A wicket could have exposed Sussex’s batting line-up to a nervy chase, but Burnham failed to grasp the opportunity – epitomising his side’s performance over the course of the match.

Evans made the most of his second life, reaching fifty from 104 deliveries. Van Zyl then reached three figures with a nudge down to fine leg. Salisbury removed Evans for 51, but Ben Brown knocked off the winning runs to guide Sussex over the line, capping a fine performance on the road from his side.

Durham will be frustrated by the manner of their defeat, failing to capitalise on advantageous positions in the match. They reduced the visitors to 71-7 in their first innings following fine bowling from James Weighell and Rushworth. However, Wells, who played the innings of the match with an unbeaten 98, managed to grind out 131 runs for the final three wickets, bringing Sussex within 22 runs of Durham’s first-innings total.

Durham v sussex day one
Durham v Sussex day two
Durham v Sussex day three

After losing quick wickets on the morning of day three, Durham appeared to be grinding out a solid partnership with Gareth Harte and Ned Eckersley at the crease. However, after scoring back-to-back boundaries, Eckersley smashed a delivery from medium-pacer Tom Haines straight at Evans.

The wicket sparked a collapse as Liam Trevaskis and Ben Raine fell within the space of three deliveries. Although Harte combined with the Durham lower order, the target of 212 set for the visitors was always going to be vulnerable to one significant partnership.

After losing Phil Salt and Haines, Wells and Van Zyl combined with a stand of 83 to see off the threat of the new ball and make significant inroads into the required total. Matt Salisbury did give Durham brief hope when he dismissed Wells for 41. Van Zyl continued to thwart the home side, reaching his fifty from 88 deliveries, while Evans provided a good foil at the other end to whittle down the target.

Durham were almost handed a lifeline on the fourth day when Evans picked out Burnham at cover, only for the fielder to put down a simple chance. Sussex picked their moments to find the boundary and displayed the composure out in the middle. Van Zyl was the foundation of their success, reaching his first Championship century of the term from 149 deliveries. Evans fell with only one needed to break their stand of 112, but Brown was on hand to knock off the single required to confirm the win.

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Match Reports

Second-placed Horsham hailed for highest finish since 2006, no matter what happens now

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Dominic Di Paola has hailed the efforts of all involved no matter what happens in the play-offs as Horsham clinched second place in the Bostik League South East Division on Bank Holiday Monday.

The Hornets rounded off their campaign with a 2-1 away win at Guernsey to confirm their highest league position since 2006.

Guernsey v Horsham. Steve Metcalf. Picture by John Lines.JPG

Guernsey v Horsham. Steve Metcalf. Picture by John Lines.JPG

Goals from Chris Smith and Lee Harding handed them their 23rd win of the campaign and ensured they go into next week’s play-offs against either Ashford United or Haywards Heath at home on a run of six straight wins.

Horsham manager Di Paola said: “We played ok. We looked a little leggy, but in general we were pretty good. It was nice to get the final win and over the finish line of the league campaign.

“The boys have been brilliant. The points per game total and where we have finished in the table regardless of what happens in the play-offs.

“The fact we had lost four out of six in the first month of the season and gone on to finish second especially with the calibre of the league is something.

Guernsey v Horsham. Lee Harding strokes home. Picture by John Lines

Guernsey v Horsham. Lee Harding strokes home. Picture by John Lines

“If the season finished now I’d be really happy with what we have achieved as a football club. To finish above some of the teams we have is brilliant. The boys and staff behind the scenes deserve all the credit.”

Horsham opened the scoring on 21 minutes thanks to a well worked goal. Kieran Lavery’s run down the right-wing wasn’t tracked by the Guernsey defence, allowing him to thread the ball into the path of Smith who tucked home with aplomb.

That was the way it remained until Guernsey shot themselves in the foot with 13 minutes of the game left to play after another awful back-pass. Keanu Marsh was the guilty party this time, as Harding raced onto the ball to fire past Stanton.

A Carlos Canha rocket from outside the box with two minutes to go ensured a nervy finish at Footes Lane, but the visitors saw out an added five minutes.

Di Paola added: “I think they had one shot and scored from it. Don’t get me wrong, we did not create a huge amount, but the Saturday game took a bit out of us. We were a bit leggy.

“Once we got the second we were able to see it out. It was quite a professional performance – the boys have added that to their game. Earlier in the season we kept playing to score and expansive football an came unstuck a few times.”

Horsham: Mant, Metcalf, Sparks, Brivio, Miles (Hyde 66), Merchant, Lavery, Hayward, O’Toole (Taylor 84), Smith (Richardson-Brown 67), Harding. Unused: Lovegrove, Baxter.

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Match Reports

Loxwood's draw to confirm survival 'was a nice way to kick-off the bank holiday weekend'

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Loxwood’s 1-1 home draw with Crawley Down Gatwick on Saturday to ensure their Premier Division survival ‘was a nice way to kick off the bank holiday weekend’ according Alex Walsh.

Jason Dawson opened the scoring for the hosts but former Magpie Michael Wood levelled for the visitors as the points were shared.

Defeats for bottom-sides Arundel and Eastbourne United meant that Loxwood opened up a seven point cushion over the drop with two games left to play, thereby confirming their place in the division for next season.

Walsh said: “We had a little bit of pressure before the game. I know we had a little bit of daylight between us and the teams below us but we wanted to get it done that day.

“We didn’t want to leave it over the next couple of games and drag it out.

“We were a bit unlucky with the goal we conceded. I didn’t think it was a free-kick but sometimes those things are given.

SEE ALSO Loxwood planning ‘vast improvements’ to avoid relegation battle next season | Walsh praises Loxwood for escaping drop zone but stresses they ‘can’t take their foot off the gas’ | Loxwood ‘hard done by’ in defeat to high-flying Eastbourne Town

“A 1-1 draw was enough with results going our way so there was good celebrations in the dressing room after the game.

“It was a nice way to kick-off the bank holiday weekend.”

In the first-half Anvils keeper Andy Greaves made some great stops to keep the Magpies at bay.

After 42 minutes Dawson pounced on some hesitant defending and finished from close in after a surging run into the box. It was 1-0 to Loxwood at the break.

The Anvils came out fired up for the second-half. Their dominance was rewarded on the hour when Wood fired an absolutely unstoppable free-kick past Liam Matthews, in the home goal, for a deserved equaliser.

Crawley Down pushed for a winner but Loxwood defended well to take a share of the spoils and earn the point that ensured their Premier Division status for next season.

Loxwood: Matthews, Frankland (Bennett 76), Broughton, French, Boiling, Courtney, Follea, Goldson (Smith 86), Robinson (Mutongerwa 55), Dawson. Unused: Ridsdale-Hooper, Popham.

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Match Reports

'No one can argue the best team won' in Horsham YMCA's derby victory at Broadbridge Heath

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Horsham YMCA extended their unbeaten run to 13 games, and ended Broadbridge Heath’s eight-match unbeaten run, as they defeated their near-neighbours 3-0 in the penultimate game played at the old Leisure Centre in the Premier Division on Saturday.

Second-place YM led 2-0 at the break through Dean Bown and Guy Harding, before Tony Nwachukwu added the third with ten minutes of the game to go.

Horsham YMCA celebrate scoring.

Horsham YMCA celebrate scoring.

Heath remain sixth but need just another three points to secure their pre-season target of a top-six finish.

On 15 minutes Nwachukwu got behind the Heath defence but Ryan Brackpool mistimed his challenge in the area and the referee rightly awarded the penalty. Bown duly disptached the spot-kick to record his 23rd league goal.

An excellent delivery from a Luke Gedling free-kick five minutes later saw Harding head home, after a great run to lose the Bears’ defenders.

The hosts responded when YM keeper Aaron Jeal saved a close range effort from Devon Fender and George Cousins fired the rebound wide.

Action from Saturday's derby between Broadbridge Heath and Horsham YMCA.

Action from Saturday’s derby between Broadbridge Heath and Horsham YMCA.

Bown thought he had bagged his second of the game before half-time, but his goal was ruled out for offside.

Heath began to get on top in the second-half, with several inviting crosses from both flanks going unfinished or ending with a corner.

From a Brackpool long throw Jeal allowed the ball to go in and out of his hands and into the net. Heath celebrated but the referee however thought differently, penalising Jamie Taylor for a foul on the YMCA stopper.

As Heath threw men forward in search of a goal they became more vulnerable at the back.

SEE ALSO Horsham YMCA boss sympathises with Broadbridge Heath’s stadium plight ahead of derby | Horsham YMCA boss Buckland: ‘If I had been offered second at Christmas I would’ve taken it’ | Buckland ‘grateful’ for victory over Hassocks on a ‘mixed up day’ for Horsham YMCA
Bears’ keeper Kieron Thorp kept YM at bay with a great reaction save but Nwachukwu made the game safe for the visitors with ten minutes left.

Horsham YMCA boss Peter Buckland said: “No one can argue that the best team won. It was reasonably comfortable for the last half an hour. We scored at the right times.

“We both had a goal chalked off at 2-0. They had one chalked off for a foul on the goalkeeper which would’ve been 2-1.

“But just prior to that we had a goal ruled off for offside which would have been 3-0.

“Heath were off the back of a good run. It was boiling hot and the pitch was bumpy but I was very pleased.

“It was a good afternoon’s work. With Newhaven drawing (away at Peacehaven & Telscombe) it means we control our own destiny.

“It takes away the fact that we need to take the cricket bats out to make the goal difference better.

“We can just focus on a victory (against Crawley Down Gatwick) and hopefully move back up into second.”

Heath: Thorp, Wright, Flack, Peters, Brackpool, Carney, Moore (Watts), Doughty, Fender (Shergold), Taylor, Cousins (Carvalho). Unused: Evento.

Horsham YMCA: Jeal, Carden, Wadhams, Gilbert, Harding, Gedling, Nwachukwu, Barbary, Bown (Eales 82), Ryder (Clarke 82), Evans (Nash 75). Unused: Moylan, Gill.

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