Battling Brighton and Hove pulled off the surprise result of the South Clubs Women’s League season on Saturday when they beat championship-chasing Oxford University 2-1 at Blatchington Mill to put further distance between themselves and the bottom of the table.
Delighted skipper Amanda Billington, who was kept busy in goal by the students, said the win was wonderful but unexpected as a victory for the visitors would have taken them top of the table.
"Brighton hosted second in the league Oxford University in what was never going to be a target game for the home side, with both teams being polar opposite ends of the league table. The last time we played them we lost by ... a lot to not a lot," she reported.
"The game was played in the middle of the pitch for the first 10 minutes until Oxford began to take the upper hand with a number of shots in quick succession but could not take the lead. Some fantastic passing up the pitch saw Verity Holder assist Milly Wheatley to put the home side ahead.
"The second half started with Milly injuring her hand and having to go off. This sent Brighton into a bit of a frenzy and Oxford piled on the pressure. Brighton were beginning to tire with the 20-year-olds running and subbing non-stop. Emma Wyatt got a ball in the face but within moments of the restart, Pip Tanner whizzed up the pitch before assisting Alex Catlow with her first goal of the season.
"Oxford piled on the pressure some more, having eight penalty corners in quick succession but joint man of the match winners Emma Wyatt and Amanda Billington were on hand to stop Oxford from capitalising. With 45 seconds to go, Brighton realised they had won, as another corner was awarded. Oxford scored but it didn’t mean anything as Brighton took all three points."
Brighton are now five points clear of last placed Maidenhead and looking to overhaul two sides immediately above them in the coming weeks, starting with another tough test at Basingstoke on Saturday.
Sussex League premier division leaders Brighton 2s were held 1-1 at home by Horsham 3s on Saturday despite having most of the possession and surrendered top spot on goal difference to Hailsham 1s.
"An organised Horsham were out of the blocks quickly and made the most of their first penalty corner," reports Redders. "After trailing 1-0 at half time, Brighton finally scored a cracker from open play on the counter attack, a great slot in by player of the match Irish after a blistering run by Amber.
"Horsham had a number of experienced players, and packed out their D. Brighton had majority possession for the game but went into contact often, and could have drawn more penalty corners. Three great upgrades by Sam and typical sturdy defending by Amanda kept the pressure on Horsham til the whistle."
The 3s faced a grudge match with Mid Sussex 1s and shared the points in a 2-2 draw.
Christine Cawte reports: "Let’s get ready to rumble…In the blue corner, the 3s with a new found thirst for points and desire to climb the league table …and in the red corner, Mid Sussex, with a LIVid attitude and confusion between a stick and feet.
"With a score dating back to Summer League to settle, the 3s arrived in Burgess Hill ready to win on the back of our fantastic game last week - well, most of us. A slight directional issue, mainly Vaughan’s inability to read signs and Metal’s lack of SATNAV skills (worrying as a paramedic) led to a third of the team taking a scenic tour of Cuckfield’s quaint high street.
"When we were all present and accounted for, the grudge match began. We put pressure on early and had many near misses within the first 10 minutes. Mid Sussex counter-attacked and were soon rewarded with the ball flying into the top corner. Once again, the 3s showed their grit and determination to making a comeback despite the LIVid wrestling moves that Mid Sussex attempted. And before we knew it, a rather LIVid midfielder booted the ball into obLIVion on the goalline, resulting in a flick for us.
"The ‘flick’ was bravely taken by DoD Ellen, whose usual powerful passes and accurate aerials seemed to evade her. As the ball travelled at a speed of just above 3mph, the enthusiastic Mid Sussex goalie sniper dived to the right allowing the ball to trickle into the goal. 1-1.
"The 3s then scored another goal in quick succession as a result of precise passes between the defence and midfield to the forwards with Ang deLIVering our second goal. 2-1. However, after the opposition taking a ball to the face, Mid Sussex capitalised on the brief game stoppage to catch us off guard to steal a second goal. 2-2 at the final whistle gave us another point in a match that we will be reLIVing for days.
"For her continuous blocks and steals in defence, MoM Bish celebrated with a bowl of hot cabbage/sprout soup whilst waiting for the food hatch to open and the stampede to begin. The hatch never did open and sprout soup (and 1 point) was our only reward for our 70 minutes grudge match. LIVid..."
In division one, the 4s match at Honeybees was postponed while the Brighton 5s tackled unbeaten league leaders South Saxons 1s and went down 3-0.
The circus train left for Hastings to face top of the league. As the team lined up all half asleep, yawning and car sick from the journey I had no idea what to expect," reports Drinky. "Roll up, roll up and off we go!"
"We started how we left off last week luckily and gave them a run for their money. We sprung into action, juggling balls and spinning plates. It was our show in the big top tent, not theirs. They were relentless with their attacks but we were solid at the back. The ringmaster taming the lions. We made few mistakes. By half time they had only knocked one coconut off the shy. They were angry and grumpy, we were happy and excited. Get the candy floss for the second half.
"Again they came at us like a herd of elephants riding unicycles. They eventually wore the tightrope down and hula hooped a ball past us for their second goal. We fired a forward player out the cannon occasionally and put in a few attacking attempts but not enough to pull one back.
"Again we played amazingly and really made it hard work for them. We tried to get them on the wheel of death and used our impressive snake charmer skills, there was some knife throwing and a bit of lasso but it wasn’t enough. They moved the well and trapezed up the pitch for a third.
"We were magical, fire breathing, sword swallowing entertainers. The greatest show. We are building strength and our human pyramid will grow. But then all the team dressed as clowns got into one mini and drove back to Brighton!"
In division two the 6s enjoyed a fine 3-1 home win over third-placed South Saxons 2s with two goals from Fleur.
"Showcasing some up and coming stars from the 7s, the 6s were met on home turf by a considerably younger team from South Saxons 2s," according to the match report. "The game started fast and furious, as it continued throughout. New defence preview from Hayley saw off a few attempts saved by the marvellous Mon!
"With the first goal scored from a power push by Gary the 6s were pumped and hungry for more. We battled on with strong fighting and possession. Fleur put in a spectacular second goal from an angled slice to round up the first half. The young ones came back from half time with a new formation and hunger for a goal. The 6’s man marked key players out of the match and older experience out weighed skills.
"Then a penalty flick was awarded to the home team. Fleur scored another beautiful goal! With the spectators cheering wild, goose howls and all! The team were on a buzz and Fleur, hedging for a hattrick, they tackled on and maintained composure and patience, with a magnificent danger run from our captain Michaela nearly giving us another goal. From an unfortunate short corner awarded to the opposition, the South Saxons got their goal."
The 7s resumed their division three campaign with a spectacular success on Saturday, winning impressively 5-0 against Burgess Hill 5s.
According to reports: "It was one of the best games the 7s have played all year with each individual pulling together to create an unstoppable unit. Defence were strong - especially during short corners - passes were consistent and accurate, and mids and forwards created a powerful attack! The game saw goals scored by Polly, Nat, Lucy and even a cracker from Gina as centre back. All in all, spirits of the 7s on Saturday were very high, and their efforts were even higher."