Young guns on fire as teenagers take adult league by storm

Sent Her Forward’s round-up of the local leagues

A new-look Sussex County Women’s League launched on Sunday – with a bang. The three matches that went ahead in the 10-strong division produced 34 goals – half of them scored by just one team.

Lancing were the biggest winners, racking up an astonishing 17-1 victory at Worthing Town, but Lewes’s youngsters hit 11 in their first venture into adult football.

Already an apparent gulf is emerging in the league, which has almost doubled in size from last year, swollen not just by the natural progression of former under-18 sides but also by teams who last season were playing at under-16 level.

As revealed exclusively by Sent Her Forward, the Sussex County Women and Girls Football League had to scrap the Under-18 Division through lack of interest.

Two of the four teams due to have competed in it – Horsham Sparrows and Crawley Town – have moved into Surrey’s Under-18 league, while Lewes have leap-frogged a year group to enter the Sussex Women’s Division.

Worthing Town, who fielded sides in the women’s, under-18 and under-16 leagues last season – and were one of the original applicants for this year’s disbanded under-18 division – have two teams in the new division, as well as a senior side in the South East Counties Women’s League.

Of the remainder, most are either existing Women’s Division sides or those who have effectively stepped up from the under-18s – Crawley Wasps, Jarvis Brook – and Lancing, who have been created from the ashes of the former Hangleton Rangers.

So it was a journey into the unknown for many of the younger sides – and players and officials from two of them at least will be sleeping more easily after crushing first-day victories.

Lancing, managed by former Hangleton boss Jason Downer, went to town at Palatine Park, rattling in 17 goals and conceding only one.

Billie-Jo Cobb scored five, Chelsea Watson four, and there were doubles for Kayleigh Thaxter and Hannah Bashir-Eviston. The other scorers were Amy Longhurst, Nicole Webley, Lucia Williamson and Sophie Pierce.

Meanwhile, at Henfield, Lewes Development Centre – the new, rather convoluted name for the former under-16s, were taking an even bigger step up – into what was uncharted territory for both clubs.

Henfield had dropped out of the league last season but reappeared this year in a new guise.


However, the challenge proved too much for them on the opening day: they were 6-0 down by half-time and eventually lost 11-0.

It was a terrific start for Lewes manager Martin Perkins and his players, who, he admitted, had been extremely nervous after learning they would be thrust into the world of adult football before they had completed their youth education.

He told Sent Her Forward: “Although the score was high, we still learned a lot. I said to them at half-time that while you’re quite capable of passing the ball around, and scoring goals, what you’re learning here is the adult aspects of the game – the more physical side of the game, and perhaps the more challenging conversations that players have.”

Lewes, unlike most of the teams they will be playing, are in a curious situation, where the ultimate goal is less about results and league positions than preparing the players for the rigours of the next step in the community club’s production line.

“Depending what squad John (Donoghue, manager of Lewes’s first team in the FAW Premier League) wants, that will dictate the squad that Mark (Currier) has for the reserves.

“And the idea is that he will be taking some of my squad to play in the reserves (in the FAW Premier Reserves League) to give them experience of that level.”

But with the first team without a competitive game on Sunday, Currier was able to field more or less the development squad he wanted in the Reserves League Cup, leaving Perkins a full range of 16- and 17-year-olds to choose from.

And they signalled their arrival among the big girls with a resounding 11-0 victory.

He said: “I think they did very well indeed. They were extremely nervous before the game – as they have been since we’ve had to make the decision to move into the ladies’ league.”

Physical side

Perkins said he reassured them that many of the players they would be up against in the division would be only nine months or so older than them, and that some of their opponents would probably be comparable with some of the better teams his girls faced in last year’s Under-16 Division, and at a national tournament they took part in.

“Obviously I haven’t had a chance to see all the teams yet, but I don’t think that technically, the opposition will be a lot better than that. They obviously will have individuals who will be, but collectively I don’t think they will be a lot better.

“But what they will be is more experienced and will have the physical side. But we’ll deal with that.”

The 11 goals were shared around the squad, with no fewer than nine different scorers. The prolific Chloe Evans scored two, and there was one each for Eleanor Bonwick, Holly Currier, Danielle Farrell, Nadine Martin, Amy Perkins, Charlotte Russell, Lily Smith and Ellie French – plus an own goal.

In the third match played on Sunday, Rottingdean Village, who missed out on promotion last season on the final day, lost at home to Crawley Wasps, who last season were playing in the Under-18 Division.

Charlotte Deeley and Sam Morley scored the Brighton side’s goals in a 3-2 defeat.

Perhaps rather alarming, though, given the demise of the Under-18 Division and the reduction of the Under-16 league to just four sides, is the fact that two of the fixtures in what appeared to be a healthier-looking Women’s Division were not played yesterday.

Predators were unable to fulfil their fixture against Hurstpierpoint, according to the FA Full-Time website, and Worthing Town Reserves v Jarvis Brook was also postponed, with no explanation so far forthcoming.


Henfield 0 Lewes 11 (Evans 2, Bonwick, Currier, Farrell, Martin, Perkins, Russell, Smith, French, OG)
Predators P-P Hurstpierpoint
Rottingdean Village 2 (Deeley, Morley) Crawley Wasps 3
Worthing Town 1 Lancing 17 (Cobb 5, Watson 4, Thaxter 2, Bashir-Eviston 2, Longhurst, Webley, Williamson, Pierce)
Worthing Town Reserves P-P Jarvis Brook

Sussex County Women and Girls Football League Under-16 Division result

Southdown 7 (Curran 3, Jellett 3, May) Bexhill United 1

Surrey County Women and Girls League Under-18 Division

Crawley Town‘s switch to Surrey following the disbanding of the under-18 division in Sussex paid immediate dividends as they romped to a 9-2 victory over South Park in their inaugural fixture in the county.

Lauren Tyler scored four and created a couple more as last season’s Sussex Under-16 League Cup winners began on a high.


Crawley Town 9 (Tyler 4, Page 2, Killick-Bird, Grinham, Hill) South Park 2

South East Counties Women’s League

Premier Division
The contrasting fortunes of Herne Bay and South Park over the past year or so were perfectly summed up in their first league meeting at Winch’s Field.

Bay, who have scooped up trophies galore in two successful seasons through the lower county and regional leagues, are riding the crest of a wave and added to the Surrey side’s woes with a comprehensive 7-0 victory on Sunday.

In contrast, South Park – who only two seasons ago finished runners-up in this division – have endured a miserable time, failing to field a settled line-up and suffering greatly from fixture congestion in the second half of last season.

Reprieved from relegation despite finishing bottom last season, they conceded their opening game this time around, against Crockenhill, when they failed to field a side. Then they crashed out of the FAW Cup, losing 12-1 to London Corinthians.

And on Sunday they conceded another seven goals to a rampant Herne Bay who can’t seem to do anything wrong.

Lethal strike partners Harriet Chapman and Vicky Holness scored six between them, and Carly Farrow grabbed the other as Bay made it three wins out of three since gaining promotion – with 15 goals scored and only four conceded.

Dartford move up to second after a 2-1 win at Burgess Hill, while Long Lane move third after a 5-1 over Meridian.

South Park are the only team without a point after Anchorians‘ 3-2 victory at Crockenhill and Eastbourne‘s 2-1 win over Parkwood Rangers.


Burgess Hill 1 Dartford 2
Crockenhill 2 (Harvey, Hayes) Anchorians 3
Eastbourne 2 (Omar 2) Parkwood Rangers 1 (Goodall)
Herne Bay 7 (Chapman 4, Holness 2, Farrow) South Park 0
Long Lane 5 Meridian 1 (Clarke)

Division One West
Abbey Rangers won at the first attempt in their new surroundings, but survived a late fightback from Worthing Town before running out 3-2 winners. Rachel Johnson, who missed Abbey’s FAW Cup defeat at Burgess Hill the previous week, hit a first-half hat-trick before two late Worthing goals ensured a frantic finish to the game.

The Surrey side move straight up to third in the early table as only Seahaven Harriers and Worthing Minors maintained their 100% records after two games – both with five-star performances.

Seahaven followed up their 8-2 victory over Wivelsfield Green last week with a 5-0 win at newly promoted Adur Athletic.

Minors hit five for the second week in succession, Phoebe Thorpe scoring twice in their 5-1 victory against Bexhill United Reserves.

Wivelsfield bounced back from the Seahaven defeat with a 4-0 victory over Milford & WitleyWithout striker Emma Chrimes, who suffered a bad injury after scoring twice in that opening game, Wivi won with goals from Hayley Plummer (2), Claudia Vogel and Jade Gardiner.

The division’s other winners on week two of the league season were Burgess Hill 2nds, who bounced back from their 5-0 defeat to Worthing Minors to defeat Dorking 3-0.


Dorking 0 Burgess Hill 2nds 3
Wivelsfield Green 4 (Plummer 2, Vogel, J Gardiner) Milford & Witley 0
Worthing Minors 5 (Thorpe 2, Carter, Johnson, OG) Bexhill United Reserves 1
Worthing Town 2 Abbey Rangers 3 (Johnson 3)

Division One East
could be forgiven if they demanded to scrutinise future opposition team sheets for anyone called Kayleigh after being given the runaround by players of that name at Ashford.

The Tunbridge Wells side, who switched from the West division this season, were hammered 9-0 by the newcomers, with Kayleigh Harris and Kayleigh Weeding each scoring hat-tricks.

Thanet Colts join Ashford at the top of the table, just two games into the season, after another goalfest. They followed up last week’s 6-1 win at Castle Colts with seven more against Charlton Athletic Development.

Aylesford Reserves manager Steve King promises more hard work on the practice ground after his side went down 5-2 at home to Prince of Wales.

He felt the turning point came at 2-1 down when Alice Cockerill hit the post from 10 yards, only for Prince of Wales to grab a third a few minutes later.

“I saw our heads drop and body language suggested we had given up,” he said. “But no complaints with the result – we were second-best.”


Anchorians 2nds 4 Castle Colts 0
Ashford 9 (Harris 3, Weeding 3, Cannon, K Howard, Y Howard) Rusthall 0
Aylesford Reserves 2 (Smith, Baker) Prince of Wales 5 (Rennie 3, Newton, Gilmour)
Thanet Colts 7 Charlton Athletic Development 3

Kent Division results

Margate 0 Long Lane Reserves 10 (Oldfield 4, Shogbamimou 4, Williams 2)
Sheerness East 2 (Baker, Murphy) Anchorians 3rds 2 (Britten, Goode)
Swale 1 Barming 4
Teynham Gunners 2 (Rye, Wickings) London Corinthians Reserves 1 (Robertson)

Results and other details courtesy of FA Full-Time and individual clubs


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