Trio reach county cup quarter-finals

Three Macron East Sussex Football League clubs reached the quarter-finals of the Sussex Bluefin Junior Challenge Cup with victories on Saturday.

Bexhill AAC, Icklesham Casuals and Sovereign Saints all made it to the last eight of the county knockout competition, despite having to play their fourth round ties away from home after two previous postponements meant they had to surrender home advantage.

Action from the Macron East Sussex Football League Premier Division clash between St Leonards Social and Ore Athletic. Picture by Simon Newstead

Action from the Macron East Sussex Football League Premier Division clash between St Leonards Social and Ore Athletic. Picture by Simon Newstead

Division One high-flyers AAC triumphed 3-2 after extra-time against Bognor Regis-based Felpham Colts in their first match since way back on November 18. Dominic Sinden struck twice for AAC before Lewis Wade grabbed the winner.

Division Two leaders Icklesham prevailed 3-1 away to Crawley Devils via the finishing of Charlie Cornford, Steffan Davies and Jack Hobden.

Saints, who are also very much in the Division Two title mix, won 4-1 against Lewes-based Ridgewood courtesy of goals from Philip Broom (2), Jack Haffenden and Jack Murphy.

The quarter-finals will take place next Saturday and all three face long away trips. Icklesham go to Montpelier Villa AFC II, Sovereign Saints will head to Bognor Regis to play Nyetimber Pirates II and AAC will travel to Chichester to take on Lavant II.

Saints and AAC could face each other in the semi-finals if they both win, while a potential last four trip to Whyke United is the incentive for Icklesham.

Chichester-based Whyke became the first team through to the semi-finals after winning 2-1 away to another East Sussex Division One club, Wadhurst United, on Saturday.

Three quarter-finals were completed in the East Sussex League’s Premier Travel Challenge Cup - for teams in the Premier Division and Division One - on a day when just over half of the scheduled fixtures went ahead.

Hollington United won 3-1 against Bexhill Town in a clash between second and fourth in the Premier Division which was switched to Bexhill Road with the Gibbons Field pitch unfit.

Daniel Hull, Ashley Kidman and Callum Smith found the net for a Hollington side playing for the first time since December 9. Dan Gale scored for Town, who had a player sent-off.

Hollington will be away to the winners of the one outstanding last eight tie, between Rye Town and Bexhill AAC.

Hollington have also been awarded a walkover for a league game against Hawkhurst United last month, putting them two points behind leaders Battle Baptists with a game in hand.

In the bottom half of the draw, Sidley United won 1-0 in an all-Premier Division affair against Robertsbridge United which was switched to Hooe Rec with The Clappers pitch unfit.

Sean Baldwin scored the all-important goal as Sidley edged out Robertsbridge by a one-goal margin for the second successive Saturday having beaten them 4-3 in the league the previous weekend.

Sidley’s opponents in the last four will be Northiam 75, who won 3-1 at home to Mountfield United in the all-Division One quarter-final thanks to a Scott Embery hat-trick.

The rest of last weekend’s action came in the league and the one Premier Division fixture to go ahead ended in a 1-1 draw between St Leonards Social and Ore Athletic at Tilekiln.

A Ryan Harffey goal earned second-bottom Ore a point against third-bottom Social, despite having a player sent-off.

Ore are now six points above bottom side Crowhurst, whose match against Rye Town was called-off after both teams had arrived, albeit having played five more games.

In Division One, second-top beat second-bottom as Westfield II triumphed 2-1 at home to Herstmonceux on a very boggy Parish Field pitch.

Marc Barden gave Westfield an early lead against the run of play. James Jarvis equalised for Herstmonceux in the second half, but Billy-Jo Driver volleyed home Westfield’s winner.

Westfield are seven points behind leaders Northiam with a game in hand.

Rock-a-Nore picked up a third consecutive victory without even kicking a ball as scheduled visitors Hastings Rangers were unable to field a team.

Casey Ham plundered a four-goal salvo as Division Two’s bottom side, Bexhill Rovers, won 5-2 at home to Battle Baptists II.

Liam McCann scored Rovers’ other goal to move them level on points with second-bottom Wittersham, albeit having played four more matches. Kieran Mayhew and Sam Loughman netted for seventh-placed Battle.

Sedlescombe Rangers II continued their fine season with a 5-0 victory at home to Pebsham Sibex in the one Division Three encounter to survive.

Liam Baker and Lee Mansfield struck twice each, and Ben Gardner grabbed the other for second-placed Sedlescombe, who are now just two points behind unbeaten leaders Punnetts Town, albeit having played three extra matches.

None of Division Four’s top three were in action, but fourth-placed South Coast Athletico did play and won 4-3 away to fifth-placed Sovereign Saints II on the 3G pitch at Eastbourne Sports Park.

The goals of Jack Bloomfield, Lee Finnigan, Dayle Mcgurk and Connor Easton proved just enough for Athletico to overcome a Saints side which responded through Elliot Davey, Mohamed Moussa and Chris Williams.

West Hill United moved up a place to sixth on the back of a 6-2 success away to bottom-of-the-table Burwash. Daniel Wilkes (2), Matthew Wheeler, Tyler Smith, Jamie Gravett and Adam Lawrence were West Hill’s scorers.

Sedlescombe Rangers III took full advantage of Division Five title rivals Hampden Park not playing to go back to the top of the table via a 7-2 victory away to AFC Hollington.

Philip Hatch was the day’s highest scorer with five goals, while Graham Hatch and substitute Simon Mitchell chipped in with one apiece as Sedlescombe went two points clear of Hampden Park having played two more games.

The turning point of the match came when Sedlescombe centre-back Ben Cowell, who had gone in goal following an injury to Sean Weedon, saved a second half penalty with the score 3-2.

Third-from-top Battle Baptists III and third-from-bottom Northiam 75 II played out a thrilling 4-4 draw. Jamie Crouch netted a hat-trick for Battle, whose other goal was scored by Aaron Jamieson, while Tom Powell (2), Kieron Moss and Hayden Reed struck for Northiam.

Fourth-placed Icklesham Casuals II extended their unbeaten run to seven matches in all competitions with a 4-1 success at home to Beckley Rangers.

Phil Badrock netted twice, and Stewart Marshall and Ken Wadbrook once each for Icklesham against a Beckley side whose consolation was scored by Luke Townsend.

Matches are scheduled for all six divisions next Saturday, along with three Sussex Junior Cup quarter-finals, two Wisdens Sports Challenge Cup last eight encounters and three Coopers Construction Challenge Cup quarter-finals.