In glorious Sussex sunshine, the Mullets' young side more than matched their opponents during an eventful first half in which the home side saw visiting keeper Josh Bird tip the ball on to both the post and crossbar from Josh Mines' efforts whilst the visitors had the ball in the net ten minutes before half time only to be ruled out for offside.
Richard Towers, deputising for the unavailable Jason Mines, saw his side reduced to ten men moments before the half-time interval as substitute Ollie Hawkins saw red for what looked like an innocuous challenge on the edge of his own penalty area despite protestations from the Arundel camp.
The second half was very much a containment job for the Mullets, some dogged defending keeping the visitors from opening the scoring, the closest being skipper Chris Wyatt hitting the post just after the hour mark. Increased pressure on the Arundel backline finally told a couple of minutes after Wyatt’s effort, Stags Liam Dreckman capitalising on a loose ball in the six yard box to opening the scoring.
It wasn’t long to wait for a second goal, Marcus Bedford’s smart finish doubled the visitors lead with twenty minutes to play as Arundel struggled to keep hold of the ball and fashion any chances for themselves. Ten minutes from time another of the Stags substitutes Kieran Carter tapped in at the far post following a great cross from the left hand side to give the visitors an opening day win whilst leaving the Mullets and Towers to wonder what might have been after a goalless first half.
Towers said: "I thought it was a harsh red card and if anything thought the player was running away from goal, however the referee deemed it a professional foul and from that point on it was always going to be a struggle."
Towers’ opposite number Andy Ewen agreed the red card had a bearing on the direction of the game but was pleased with how his side played. "It was pleasing to start with a win, both sides missed good chances in the first half while Josh (Bird) made two good saves but the red card completely changed the game. I felt in the second half we were in total control and once we got the first goal we would go on to score more, I can’t underestimate the impact of the substitutes in this game and I’m sure we’ll get stronger over the coming weeks."
Mullets travel to Billingshurst on Saturday while Midhurst entertain league newcomers Epsom & Ewell.
by Trevor Knell - read more at www.footballwriting.blog