As expected, South Clubs Women's League leaders Surbiton proved too strong for Brighton and Hove on Saturday, winning 5-0 and sending the visitors back into the relegation zone with three matches remaining.
"Surbiton took an early lead off their second drag flick penalty corner (first saved in top left corner by MoM Bara)," reports skipper Amanda Billington. "We held out for a further 10 minutes before the obviously unsighted umpire gave the home side a free hit at the top of the D. They took it quickly and passed to their left winger, who ran in and reverse undercut the ball so hard it was surprising the net stayed intact!
"Brighton didn’t give up and had a couple of runs at goal both before and after half time. Surbiton drag flicked four more short corners but to no avail. The defence worked hard clearing shots and free balls. Then Surbiton added three more in quick succession due to a 12-minute lapse in marking.
"The home side were younger fitter and equipped with a plethora of skills and deserve to be top of the league but Brighton find themselves two points behind Reading and back in the relegation zone after Reading 2s took three points from mid table team Tulse Hill. The battle goes on!"
Next up for Brighton are second-placed Wimbledon at Blatchington on Saturday (March 16) at 2pm.
In the Susex League Premier Division, the 2s got back to winning ways with a hard-fought 2-1 over Mid Sussex 1s to remain three points behind leaders Hailsham 1.
Captain Nivene Raafat reports: "After our disappointing performance last week, we aimed to rebound against a gritty Mid Sussex side. The game was fairly even for most of the first half, with keeper Jess Harris being called upon to close down an attacker that picked up a cheeky steal inside our 23. Hannah E and Redders worked tirelessly on the left while Hannah P tried to unleash player of the match Clare down the right.
"We managed to get into their D multiple times but our options were limited and despite piling the pressure on, we went into half time 0-0. We came out guns blazing in the second half and managed to get on the scoreboard with a short corner tap in by Niv.
"Mid Sussex then equalised on the break, so back up the other end we went, trying all we could to create some opportunities in their D. Kelly finally put us 2-1 up with a slightly unorthodox strike that found the backboard. Mid Sussex had a young side who always looked menacing on the break, but we managed to hold our nerve and see the game out with three points."
Despite some navigational issues on the way to Bognor and having to contend with a physical Middleton 1s side, the 3s claimed a 5-3 win which kept their unbeaten record in 2019 and moved them up a place in the table.
Christine Cawte reports: "The 3s took a little trip to the depths of Bognor Regis with the potential of climbing the league table with a win over Middleton … and we did not disappoint. Again actually getting to the pitch on time proved a challenge for many players - mainly due to Vaughan’s lack of SatNav skills (pattern emerging) resulting in us arriving at the teas location before the match had begun.
"After everyone being present and accounted for, we started the game with high energy and accurate passes despite allowing Middleton to score an early goal. We fought back with a real hunger for points and were soon rewarded with a trademark deflection from a short corner from MoM Ang followed by a calm and collected flick from a very hungover DoD Postie after Middleton stopped the ball on the line with a foot. 2-1.
"Middleton replied with a barrage of physical play (Kat White saw red after a stick smack in the face) and golf-swing hits; however they couldn’t stop another Brighton goal being converted when Ang passed sideways to Christine on the P-spot who secured a third goal. Middleton produced an impressive deflection out of nowhere which took the score to 3-2 at half time.
"With a win within our grasp, we set out in the second half with continued pressure from the off and were soon rewarded with a fourth goal from Lizzie with a strong hit followed by another goal from Ang when she went one-on-one with the goalkeeper at the top of the D and calmly pushed it past and into the goal.
"Our solid defence provided a barrier to any golf swing hit with Beth cracking out her trademark picks and babysitting a wayward Middleton forward who chose to stand behind our goalkeeper Emily for 10 minutes even though the ball stayed firmly at the opposite end of the pitch.
"Despite Middleton’s literal fight back - elbows, sticks and mouth, their third goal did nothing to impact the final score. 5-3 win to the 3s and a move up the league table overtaking Middleton. The 3s remains unbeaten in 2019 with a succession of wins and draws, and are ready for our match against the 2s on Saturday …and hopefully a slice of lemon drizzle cake if Postie ever delivers."
The match between the 4s and 5s in division one proved tight for the second time this season before the 4s snatched the points with the only goal of the game from JP.
Ellie Hehir's view from the 4s was: "Last week the skippers (and vice) of the 4s and 5s decided to have a little break. Who knows what happened in the hockey world but I (vice cap of 4s) was bouncing my large ball into both Drinky and Rach (of 5s captaincy fame).
"So this week I decided to leave the zorb bubble at home and I approached Saturday with my stick in hand. Oh and look who I'm faced with: ruddy Rach and Drinky. Without the protection of a inflatable ball the fours set up for their favourite and most dreaded game of the season.
"The game was, as per the previous, a game of high spirits. Tempo was fast, stick tackles a plenty (oops), chipper spirits and plenty of attempts to recreate as many of Wendy's lessons as possible! The fours won on possession but the fives' impressive breaks were, as usual, irritating any sensitive bowel on the fours squad.
"Abbie, despite a few pre-game bribes, was a dream boat and alongside the hard as nails fives' defence blocked the fours who struggled to get that ruddy ball in the goal. Lots of D time paid off and JP pulled it out the bag - GOAL! (Yes those capitals were more exciting than JP's celebration - needs work love).
"So the fours, some of which spent too much time giving back to the club by buying cider, leave this Saturday feeling sufficiently challenged, tired and tipsy and ready for another game on Sunday ... Wellcome done and well playered to the fours and fives."
Here's Drinky's nicely upbeat take on the showdown between the 'Fantastic 5s' and 'Frantic Fours'.
"As I said before, I would not be writing any more losing match reports so to us this felt like a win. To play a team for the second time that you are ‘meant’ to lose to and again have only one goal be the difference, is a clear WIN.
"It reinforces that we are in the league we deserve to be in - WIN.
"It shows the skill and experience of this team - WIN.
"It emphasises the growth in strength of the team over this season - WIN.
"It identifies a team whose spirit has never faded - WIN.
"It illustrates that this team will not take long to settle into this league and each season will have higher finishing positions - WIN.
"I want to thank the fours for showing us the respect we deserved and not starting this game with an air of an easy win. The pressure was all on them again. Both teams coming into this on the back of wins the week prior meant this promised to be a highly tense and show stopper of a match - WIN.
"The work rate on the pitch from both teams was immense from start to finish. It was exhausting both physically and mentally especially as the fours started as frantic headless chickens and we decided to join them! Carnage.
"The majority of the first half was all attacking from the fours, they were throwing everything at us including the kitchen sink, their first aid kit, trumpets, trombones, a few donkeys, a couple of squirrels and some banana skins. We absorbed, we held, we did not concede - WIN.
"Towards the end of the half, we found our feet and put some fantastic play together. Quick breaks, smooth passing and missing the goal by a whisker - WIN.
"Half time came and we were upbeat, 0-0! Making it hard work for them, great attacking play by us. It was anyone’s game - WIN.
"The second half saw the battle commence. The amount of talent in the fours shone through. They are fast, they are skilful, and they are relentless. With barely a quarter of the game left to play, they broke through with a well worked attack that resulted in the only goal of the game. A well earned victory for them. They fought hard and they never gave up on getting some reward for all the pressure they put on us.
"It was an extremely enjoyable game. Both sides happy with their performance and admiring of each other. Mutual respect - WIN.
"We have not been an easy team to face this season and we take pride in making games difficult for oppositions and making it frustratingly hard to get results against - WIN.
"Intra-club games in the past have been unpleasant but this season the fours vs fives has been fun, competitive, done in good spirit and with respect. Welcome done and well playered to all in making it that way and representing this mighty club so well - WIN.
There were defeats for the 6s - who did well in going down 4-2 at home to free scoring and runaway leaders Eastbourne 2 in division two - and the 7s, who lost 4-0 in division three at Burgess Hill 4s.
Updated 14:10 - 25 Apr 2019 by David Chappell