Tight tussles in top flight
The weekend threw up a series of tight contests in the Macron East Sussex Football League Premier Division.
Three of the top flight’s five matches ended in draws and the other two were decided by the odd goal, illustrating the competitive nature of what’s a strong division this season.
With second-placed Battle Baptists not playing, leaders Hollington United moved three points clear courtesy of a 4-3 victory at home to Sedlescombe Rangers.
The goals of Glenn Woodhurst (2), Ashley Kidman and Sam White were just enough to give Hollington their seventh win in eight league outings. Dominic Bristow and Ryan Edwards scored for a Sedlescombe side which has now lost by a one-goal margin five times this term.
The other top flight winners were Sidley United, who edged out Ore Athletic 3-2 to climb three places into the top six. Sean Baldwin, Arron Scrace and Adam Day scored for Sidley, while Kale Williams and Scott Ramsay netted for Ore.
Third-placed Rye Town twice came from behind, the second time after going down to 10 men, to preserve their unbeaten record with a 2-2 draw away to Robertsbridge United.
Ben Hardy and Justin Mewitt were on target for Robertsbridge, but their efforts were cancelled out by Craig Pierce and Charlie Stevens.
St Leonards Social remain fourth following a goalless stalemate at home to Hawkhurst United, while fifth-placed Bexhill Town recorded a hotly-contested 1-1 draw away to bottom side Crowhurst. Gary Croft scored for the Crows and Ross Cook found the net for Bexhill.
Northiam 75 took full advantage of the two teams around them at the top of Division One not playing by winning 3-1 away to fourth-placed The JC Tackleway.
A Scott Embery hat-trick fired unbeaten Northiam four points clear of their title rivals. Toby Shaw was the Tackleway scorer.
Westfield II goalkeeper Peter Newstead scored with a free kick from 15 yards inside his own half as his team won 6-1 at home to Little Common II.
Billy-Jo Driver (2), Liam Cobley, Marc Barden and Alan Johnson also netted for fifth-placed Westfield against a Common side whose consolation came from Connor Jackson.
A first half goal from Leon Pettit gave Mountfield United a 1-0 success at home to Rock-a-Nore, a result which moved Mountfield above their opponents to sixth.
The top two in Division Two were without a league fixture and third-placed Bexhill United II missed the chance to close in after losing 2-1 away to Battle Baptists II.
Ben Barton scored for Bexhill, but the goals of Ryan Souter and Dale Vinall gave Battle only their second league win of the season and lifted them two places off the foot of the table to boot.
Fourth-placed St Leonards Social II were beaten 5-3 in an eight-goal thriller at home to Hollington United II. Strikes by Michael Shaw, Ben McNicol, John Steele and Daniel Kearley moved Hollington into the top six, despite the efforts of Kieran Martin (2) and Ashley McCann for Social.
A Nicky Stiles goal was enough to give fifth-placed Peche Hill Select a 1-0 success at home to Wittersham.
Division Three leaders Sedlescombe Rangers II were comfortably the day’s highest scorers on the back of their 13-2 victory at home to Magham Down.
Liam Baker led the way with four goals, Gary Underhill helped himself to a hat-trick, Jamie Smith bagged a brace, and there was one apiece for Chris Ford, Kye Phillips, Lewis Baker and Toby Hicks.
Second-placed Punnetts Town remain two points behind with three games in hand after scheduled hosts Hawkhurst United II failed to raise a side.
The JC Tackleway II have now recorded more draws than any other team in the league after their trip to fourth-placed Sandhurst finished 2-2. The goals of Jamie Young and Jason Baldock for Sandhurst were matched by Elliot Milham and Gary Henderson as Tackleway made it four draws in nine league fixtures.
Chris Jones plundered a five-goal salvo as Pebsham Sibex surged into the top half on the back of a 9-1 triumph away to Ticehurst. Jared Beaumont (2), Nick Gamble and Danny Headech got the others for Sibex, while Joshua Jevon claimed Ticehurst’s consolation.
Division Four pacesetters Bexhill AAC II went marching on with an 8-2 win away to Ninfield VFC.
Ian Rise banged in a hat-trick, Dominic Sinden struck twice, and Matt Simmons, Scott Oliver and Max Thomson shared the other three.
Bexhill Broncos leapfrogged Orington into second place after beating them 4-2 away from home.
West Hill United advanced two places to seventh by virtue of a splendid 6-2 triumph away to Parkfield. Matthew Wheeler grabbed a hat-trick for West Hill, whose other scorers were Daniel Wilkes, Conor Loake and James Walker.
Division Five top dogs Sedlescombe Rangers III made it nine league wins out of nine with a 4-1 victory at home to Beckley Rangers.
Goals from Thomas Ellis (2), Edward Manford Keen and Luke Phillips did the damage for Sedlescombe. Rhys Piggott got the Beckley goal.
Second-placed Hampden Park are still just two points off the pace, though, after winning 4-0 at home to third-placed Robertsbridge United II. William Coles (2), Craig Crowther and Chris Puttick were the scorers.
Battle Baptists III won 7-0 at home to Herstmonceux II via the finishing of Harry Loates (2), Trystan Mayhew, Aaron Jamieson, Jamie Crouch and Richard Chambers.
Strikes by Nicholas Bellhouse and Jonathan Fitton earned Icklesham Casuals II a 2-1 triumph away to West Hill United II, for whom Michal Zemanek hit the net.
Four of the league’s clubs advanced to round three of the Sussex Bluefin Junior Cup including Icklesham Casuals, who won 6-2 at home to Watersfield.
Charlie Cornford and Jack Hobden scored two each for the Division Two leaders, whose other scorers were Steffan Davies and Valdison Newman.
Division One side Wadhurst United won 3-2 away to Division Three team Mayfield in an all-East Sussex League affair. Chaz Creasey and Kai Perry notched for Mayfield.
The other two clubs to progress, Division One outfits Bexhill AAC and Herstmonceux, did so without kicking a ball as their opponents failed to field sides.
Five other clubs exited the competition.
Bexhill Rovers lost 5-2 at home to Lancing United II and Burwash were beaten by the same score away to AFC Broadwater.
South Coast Athletico went down 6-1 away to Ardingly, while Catsfield lost 2-0 at home to Furnace Green Rovers and AFC Hollington succumbed 4-0 away to Crawley United.
One game was also played in round one of the Hastings & District FA Lower Divisions Cup and what a game it was too.
Northiam 75 II eventually prevailed 7-6 in a 13-goal thriller at home to fellow Division Five team Wittersham II.
Tom Powell, Hayden Reed and Adam Brett all struck twice for Northiam before Harry King netted the winner.