Hollington go clear at top as 20 games beat weather
Twenty Macron East Sussex Football League matches survived the chill on Saturday.
Hollington United went three points clear at the top of the Premier Division courtesy of a 4-0 win at Sedlescombe Rangers.
A Luke Woodley brace, and one apiece from Glenn Woodhurst and Grant Cornelius got Hollington back to winning ways after their defeat to second-placed Battle Baptists the previous weekend.
Battle now have a game in hand on Hollington after their clash away to Rock-a-Nore was one of three in the top flight to be postponed. The others were at Robertsbridge United and St Leonards Social.
In the other two Premier Division matches that were played, third-placed Sidley United drew 2-2 in a topsy-turvy contest at home to Old Hastonians.
James Bailey gave the Sidley the lead, but two goals from Alan Johnson swung the game in Hastonians' favour before John Carey scored a second half equaliser to ensure honours ended even.
Eastbourne Rangers came from behind to beat Ore Athletic 2-1 and move into the top five. Kale Williams put Ore ahead, but Rangers responded with strikes from Josh Kyte and Luke Regan.
Rye Town extended their lead in Division One to 11 points courtesy of a 1-0 victory against The JC Tackleway. Chris Gould's first half strike in a match switched to Rye gave a 12th victory in 14 league matches.
Second-placed Crowhurst now have two games in hand on Rye after their match against Northiam 75 was postponed.
Third-placed Bexhill Town were narrow 4-3 winners away to Herstmonceux to remain 14 points behind Rye having played five fewer fixtures. The home side scored through Stephen Johnson (2) and Todd Seavers, but still unbeaten Town claimed the points with goals from Regan Smith, Doni Dovla, Toby Clifford and Ben Cornelius.
Bexhill and Rye are due to face each other in a potentially key game in the race for the title next Saturday.
A Dan Tewkesbury brace saw Little Common II defeat Icklesham Casuals 2-1 and move into the top four.
Bexhill AAC’s lead at the top of Division Two remains at eight points following a 3-0 home win against fourth-placed Mayfield. Daniel Goergen, Darren Witham and Alex Williams scored the goals.
Second-placed Hastings Rangers remain eight points behind with three games in hand after continuing their winning run with a 9-1 success against Ticehurst. Terry Smith claimed four of the goals, and was joined on the scoresheet by Marc Barry (2), Shane Friend, Curtis Beale and Taylor Beale.
Billy-Jo Driver scored twice for third-placed Westfield III in their 4-1 win at home to Peche Hill Select. Liam Cobley and Toby Pearce completed the scoring for a Westfield side which is a point behind Rangers having played two more matches.
The match between Burwash and Hastings Athletic was cancelled due to Athletic being suspended.
With Hollington United II's match at home to Punnetts Town postponed, Bexhill Rovers seized the chance to go back to the top of Division Three with a 1-0 victory at home to Sedlescombe Rangers II. Robert Nunes scored the 50th league goal of the season for a Rovers side which is three points above Hollington, albeit having played three more matches.
Third-placed Bexhill United II are six points behind Rovers with two games in hand after winning 2-1 away to Hailsham Athletico. Goals from Jack Brown and Toby Smith were enough for Bexhill, despite Matthew Sedgwick pulling one back for Athletico late on.
Orington moved out of the bottom two on the back of a very good 3-1 victory against fourth-placed Catsfield.
As with the top four divisions, three matches were also played in Division Four. The one that didn't survive the weather was the game involving leaders Sovereign Saints at third-placed Magham Down.
Second-placed The JC Tackleway II closed the gap on the unbeaten leaders to five points, albeit having played an extra game, with a 3-2 victory at Sandhurst. David Burch, Daniel Banfield and Elliot Milham were on target for Tackleway, who themselves are undefeated in the league since September 17. Andrew Turner and Jamie Young scored for the hosts.
The other two fixtures in the division ended all-square. Victoria Baptists salvaged a 2-2 draw with Hawkhurst United II despite playing the last half-an-hour with 10 men. Goals from Tyler Charles and Gregory Daniel put Hawkurst 2-1 up, but a Paul Harvey brace earned a share of the spoils for the Baptists, whose goalkeeper Tom Field saved a penalty to keep his team in the game.
The battle of the bottom two between Mayfield II and Bexhill AAC II finished 3-3, meaning Mayfield stay three points behind Bexhill with a game in hand. Jamie Fraser, Josh Abbott and Afzal Hussain scored for Mayfield, with Bexhill responding through goals from Brad Freeman, Matt Simmons and Sam Rimmer.
Division Five leaders Wittersham II recorded the biggest win of the day with a 10-0 triumph against Bexhill Spartans. Ben Andrews claimed five goals, Gavin Carey scored a hat-trick, and Jonjo Andrews and Sam Garner chipped in with one apiece as Wittersham took their goal tally for the season to 97 in 14 league outings.
Second-placed Bexhill Broncos, who the previous weekend inflicted a first league defeat of the season on Wittersham, kept up the pressure with a 3-1 win away to Northiam 75 II. Luke Hickman, Matthew Stephens and James Downs scored for the Broncos, who are eight points adrift of the leaders having played two fewer matches. Luke Jackson replied for Northiam.
Eddie Dunn came off the bench to score a hat-trick for Hampden Park in their 4-1 win at home to Sedlescombe Rangers III. Jack Bradley claimed the hosts' first goal, with Sedlescombe responding via a 35-yard strike from Simon Mitchell.
Goals from Howard Atkinson, Paul Rockett, Justin Hardy and Ryan Kayne gave Robertsbridge United II a 4-2 victory away to Icklesham Casuals II.
One cup match was also contested and Division Four team Parkfield progressed to the semi-finals of the ESFL Chairman's Cup with a 3-2 extra-time win at home to Division Five side Battle Baptists III.
A Will Gray hat-trick eventually put Parkfield through to a last four meeting with Sandhurst or Hawkhurst United II, although Battle had led 2-1 until late on through goals from Anthony Hickman and Adam Robinson. A late equaliser from Gray took the tie into extra-time, during which he completed his treble to win the game for his team.
With the weather continuing to prove favourable despite the chill of last weekend, the league is unusually advanced with its programme this season and some clubs only have three league matches remaining.
Another full programme is scheduled for next Saturday, including the quarter-final ties in the league's flasgship knockout competition, the ESFL Premier Travel Challenge Cup.
See our comprehensive sports coverage in the Observer every Friday.
Don’t miss out on all the latest breaking news where you live.
Here are four ways you can be sure you’ll be amongst the first to know what’s going on.
1 Make this website your homepage
2 Like our Facebook page at facebook.com/pages/Sport-Sussex3 Follow us on Twitter @SportSussex
4 Register with us by clicking on ‘sign in’ (top right corner). You can then receive our daily newsletter AND add your point of view to stories that you read here.
And do share with your family and friends - so they don’t miss out!