Mixed fortunes for South East’s promoted clubs

Round-up of the grassroots women’s football action in the South East

Bexhill United celebrate winning the SECWL Premier Division (Photo: Kate Wilde)

Bexhill United are one of many teams who have found the step up a division difficult (Photo: Kate Wilde)

Promotion – every football team’s goal each season. Or is it? While some – particularly well-resourced – clubs view it as a natural step on the ladder to success, others fear the damage that a season out of their depth might do to morale.

Already this season there have been vividly contrasting fortunes for those who earned promotion last term.

Momentum continues to infuse some teams, ensuring a sparkling start to the new football year. Others have faced miserable beginnings in their new surroundings.

Of course, it’s so early in the season that nobody should rush to judgment – and a key element in matches I have seen is the early start to the new campaign, which has caught many on the hop, having to start at a higher level with many of their squad still on holiday or so new to the club that they have barely had a pre-season.

In the Premier League, Copsewood Coventry have endured a daunting first few weeks following their promotion from the former Midlands Combination.

Their first league and cup fixtures pitted them against much-strengthened Brighton and then Portsmouth, who were among last season’s Premier League front-runners.

They lost both, but acquitted themselves well, earning praise from Pompey manager Perry Northeast. But yesterday, in what might have been viewed as their first winnable game of the season, they crashed 3-0 at Queens Park Rangers, who collected their own first points of the season following their promotion from the South East Combination.

The league’s third promoted side, Plymouth Argyle, began life in the Premier League with defeat at Lewes before beating Bedford, from the next tier down, in the League Cup.

However, yesterday, their season sprang into life when they won 2-1 at home to Cardiff City, who have also earned Northeast’s compliments.

In South West Division One, Gosport Borough, who were a late addition, are struggling to play games, let alone win. But when they have, they’ve found the going tough, losing their opening league fixture 6-2 to Forest Green Rovers and then crashing 7-1 to Denham United, from a parallel league, in the cup.

At the next step down the winter pyramid, it’s been a tough old start for Bexhill United and Aylesford, who finished first and second in the South East Counties Women’s League last season.

The East Sussex side have shipped 13 goals in their opening three fixtures, leaving them planted firmly at the foot of the London & South East Women’s League Premier Division.

But they would have been encouraged by their improved showing in yesterday’s 3-2 defeat to AFC Wimbledon, who are among the division’s early front-runners.

Fay Denyer scored Bexhill’s first goals in the league in a performance that the players felt showed they were finally moving in the right direction.

Just above them in the very early table are Aylesford, who have also endured a miserable start. Manager Steve Golding still hasn’t been able to field his first-choice team, but yesterday he welcomed some more players back as they hosted Crawley Wasps – who had beaten them 5-1 on their own patch just seven days earlier.

This time round they made a much better fist of it, eventually going down 4-3 after taking an early 2-0 lead.

Sam Kilroy-Downs, Aylesford’s sole scorer the previous week, Chloe France and Beth Hulme got their goals, but they were outshone by Rebecca Carter, who hit a hat-trick for Crawley, whose captain, Natalie Stephenson, scored their winning goal.

In contrast to Bexhill and Aylesford’s fortunes, the league’s third promoted team, Carshalton Athletic, are enjoying a fine start to life in the fast lane.

After hammering Bexhill 6-0 on the opening day, they beat Eastbourne Town 2-0, and yesterday romped to a 5-0 success over Regents Park Rangers in the preliminary round of the FAW Cup.

London & South East Regional Women’s League results

AFC Wimbledon 3 Bexhill United 2 (Denyer 2)
Aylesford 3 (Kilroy-Downs, France, Hulme) Crawley Wasps 4 (Carter 3, Stephenson)
Long Lane 3 Herne Bay 4 (Chapman, Tulett, Farrow, Holness)

South East Counties Women’s League Premier Division

The step up to the SECWL Premier Division does not seem so daunting, if recent experiences are anything to go by.

Last season, Aylesford and Parkwood Rangers, who had both been promoted to it from Division One East, had fine seasons, the former eventually pipping the latter to the second promotion spot.

Parkwood‘s start this time round has been less smooth – after losing a couple of key players, they lost on the opening day 5-3 at Burgess Hill. But yesterday they returned to winning ways with a hard-fought 4-3 victory at Anchorians.

Goals by Emily Vaughan, Corrie Goodhew and Hayley Thomas put the Bexley side 3-0 up before Anchorians pulled a goal back just before half-time. Vaughan‘s second extended Parkwood’s lead before two late goals gave them a bit of an unnecessary fright.

Among those ahead of Parkwood in the early table are Herne Bay, whose inexorable rise from the depths of county football to the brink of the regional set-up continues apace.

Following successive promotions, they now lead the SECWL Premier with two wins from two. Yesterday they beat Long Lane, the only team to finish above them in South East Division One last season – again by that 4-3 scoreline which was so popular yesterday.

Bay’s goals came from Harriet Chapman, Issie Tulett, Carly Farrow and Vicky Holness.


Anchorians 3 (Laing, Saputo, Sutton) Parkwood Rangers 4 (Vaughan 2, Goodhew, Thomas)
Dartford Royals 1 Meridian 1
Long Lane 3 Herne Bay 4 (Chapman, Tulett, Farrow, Holness)

Division One West

Adur Athletic, who won the Sussex County Women’s Division last season, began life in the South East league with a 2-2 draw at home to Milford & Witley.

They twice came from behind to earn their first point, thanks to two goals from Zoe Rendall.

Seahaven Harriers could have been promoted last season if the club had applied in time, finishing second to Chichester City Reserves. Who knows how they would have fared at the higher level – fourth-placed Eastbourne, who took the promotion slot, opened their Premier League account with a 5-2 defeat to Long Lane.

But Seahaven certainly got off to a flier in their new Division One West campaign, taking full advantage of an injury to Wivelsfield Green‘s record goalscorer, Emma Chrimes, to run out convincing 8-2 winners.

Lauren Smith and Georgia Ungoed each grabbed two for Seahaven, their other goals coming from Katie Bothwell, Katie Franks, Emma Woodcock and Taylor Coade.

Chrimes had put Wivi 2-0 up, but she suffered a serious ankle injury midway through the first half and had to be taken off. With no available substitute, Wivi – who fielded two young debutants, had to endure the heat with just 10 players and succumbed to Seahaven’s onslaught.

There was also a big win for Worthing Minors, who thumped Burgess Hill Seconds 5-0 on the adjacent pitch to where Hill’s first team were playing in the FAW Cup. As a result of the simultaneous games, the two teams each had just one substitute.

Danni Laine hit a hat-trick for Worthing. Katie Burling and substitute Chloe Johnson also scored.


Division One West

Adur Athletic 2 (Zoe Rendall 2) Milford & Witley 0
Burgess Hill 2nds 0 Worthing Minors 5 (Laine 3, Burling, Johnson)
Seahaven Harriers 8 (Smith 2, Ungoed 2, Bothwell, Franks, Woodcock, Coade) Wivelsfield Green 2 (Chrimes 2)

Division One East

Ashford 3 Charlton Athletic Development 0
Castle Colts 1 Thanet Colts 6
Faversham Elizabethians 3 Prince of Wales 2
Rusthall A/W Aylesford Reserves

Kent Division

Anchorians 3rds 3 Teynham Gunners 1
London Corinthians Reserves 4 Barming 4
Sheerness East 7 Margate 2
Swale 0 Long Lane Reserves 4

FAW Cup Preliminary Round

Burgess Hill 4 (Ashby, Wheatley 3) Abbey Rangers 2 (Walker, Sale)
Hassocks 0 Eastbourne 1
London Corinthians 12 South Park 1

Revised FAW Cup 1st Qualifying Round draw

AFC Wimbledon Development v Rottingdean Village
Bexhill United v Carshalton Athletic
Crawley Wasps v Worthing Town
Dartford v Chertsey Town
Eastbourne Town v Burgess Hill
Herne Bay v Anchorians
London Corinthians v Eastbourne
Parkwood Rangers v Aylesford

Matches due to be played on September 28.

Reports, results and scorers compiled with the help of FA Full-Time and individual clubs and their officials. If you would like to see more details of your teams’ performances on Sent Her Forward, please e-mail or tweet me. Contact details here.


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