WICK & Barnham recorded their first competitive win as a merged club in a lesson on finishing at Crabtree Park on Tuesday evening - beating Steyning 3-1 to go through to the second round of the John O’Hara League Cup.
Goals from Matt Noble and Kieron Playle-Howard either side of half-time gave the hosts a 2-0 lead and, although a left-foot screamer from Town’s Jake Mills made things nervy for United on 74 minutes, a late Mark Pedrick strike ensured they reach the second round.
After an end-to-end opening half-hour which provided few chances, the game snapped into life on 34 minutes when Joss Parsons couldn’t get enough on Playle-Howard’s low cross and watched it trickle wide.
Matt Evans, who had commanded his area well for Town, launched a huge kick up field which was flicked on by Phil Williamson into the path of Maz Williams, but he took an extra touch when one on one and looking certain to score – and Jordan Matthews smothered.
At the other end Playle-Howard latched on to Pedrick’s defence-splitting pass, but Evans raced out to clear, while good work from Matt Dodd in the Wick box saw Matthews pull off a fine stop.
With just two minutes left of the half, the breakthrough came as Nathan Parke drew the challenges and teed up Noble, who fired into the bottom corner from the edge of the box.
Wick started the second half well and the ball over the top eventually paid off as Playle-Howard latched on to a Pedrick ball coming over his shoulder and fired home on 54 minutes.
Playle-Howard should have squared rather than shot as another chance went by, Pedrick fired straight at Evans after great work down the line from Joss Parsons, then Parsons shot into the side netting.
After Town weathered the storm it was there turn to press and they pulled one back on 74 minutes.
A quick throw-in from the left was shifted across field and Mills fired left-footed across goal into the top corner from outside the area.
A shaky spell from United saw a couple of free-kicks given away in dangerous areas, but Town’s finishing lacked and the home side sealed the win with a minute remaining as Parke drove in and laid back for Pedrick to smash home.
Wick & Barnham manager Jon Tucker said: “It was not the greatest of first halves but we managed to nick one at the end against the run of play. It’s a new side and we know it will take a while to gel.
“Last season those were the games we weren’t taking anything out of and we’re in the next round of the cup, although the league is the priority. There were a few (spectators) in, which is good for the club.
“Football-wise it was seven out of ten but we got the result and overall I am pleased.”
UNITED: Matthews; O.Rowland, Rumble, Newman, Salsbury; J.Parsons, Devine, Noble, Parke; Playle-Howard, Pedrick. Subs: Griffin (Devine 73), Hardwell (Playle-Howard 80), Yates (J.Parsons), Houghton, Cox.
* Wick and Barnham came back from Westfield on Saturday with a 3-3 draw. Playle-Howard scored the club’s first ever competitive goal and further first half goals from Parke and Pedrick sandwiched a Westfield reply.
The home side notched two more in the second half to draw level but United could have taken all three points, only for Kerry Hardwell to miss a penalty.
United return to league action this weekend, with Saltdean Utd the visitors to Crabtree Park followed by Mile Oak on Tuesday.
* Midhurst got their Sussex League division-two season off to a losing start, going down 2-0 at Storrington. They look for their first win with a visit to Mile Oak tonight, then go to Broadbridge Heath next Tuesday.