Eleven-goal Brighton reveal strength in depth

A look at the matches that survived the weekend weather

Action from Brighton Reserves v Chichester city Development, Nov 23 2014 (Photo: Dave Burt)

Brighton were head and shoulders above Chichester City as they stepped up their title challenge (Photo: Dave Burt)

Unforgiving Brighton Reserves made it 49 goals in nine games as they stepped up the defence of their Reserves League title with an 11-0 victory over Chichester City’s Development side.

After clinching the championship last season, Brighton face a much harder task in defending it in a much-changed, expanded division which now also includes a number of the second-tier clubs’ second strings.

And their win at the Withdean Stadium today, which lifts them into second place behind West Ham, suggests they have the resources to deal with the more gruelling challenge this time around.

Orla Dimond scored four, Danielle Carlton and Lauren Davis two each, and Amy Potkins, Ellie Russell and Holly Talbot-Smith one apiece as Brighton surpassed their previous season-best – a 9-0 victory over Lewes last month.

From that October day, when they fielded a number of players with first-team experience, they have racked up 35 goals in five games – all at home – including three in their defeat – only their second of the season – against West Ham last week.

While the Reserves League is subject to the impact of first-team calls, which can deplete squads, the Brighton squad have proved they have the resources to live with the best in that division, while at the other end, the young development squads of newcomers like Chichester and Lewes are finding it extremely hard to cope.

Lewes actually went above Chichester today – without even playing – courtesy of the big dent Brighton made in their Sussex rivals’ goal difference.

But both are still without a victory after a third of the campaign.

Team spirit ‘good’

Ironically, before today, Chichester had not suffered many big defeats, losing most by the odd goal or two until last week’s 6-1 defeat at home to Crystal Palace – which was distorted by having to sacrifice their recognised goalkeeper for the last part of the match – and today’s heavy loss at the Withdean.

Chichester’s manager, Caroline Henry-Evans, acknowledged her inexperienced team was still learning at this level and said her makeshift midfield was completely outplayed by Brighton’s impressive engine room.

Action from Brighton Reserves v Chichester City Development, Nov 23 2014 (Photo: Dave Burt)

Chichester’s manager says they will learn from their defeats to the “big” clubs (Photo: Dave Burt)

She told Sent Her Forward: “My three centre-midfielders were players out of position due to major injury within my squad and player movement up to the first team this week. They found it hard against a quality centre midfield.”

As well as missing goalkeeper Hannah McNamara, Chichester were without two regulars, who were injured, while midfielder Jemma Cottam-Verbruggen, was on first-team duty.

Henry-Evans added: “We always expected a defeat today, and it is clear that a lot of the difference is also down to fitness. Individually, I have some quality players of my own, but we are still learning how to play the so-called big teams in this league.

“The team spirit was good, as usual. They were fine with losing and know we will face games likes this this season because of the huge jump in leagues.

“But they are all still happy that we took that step (from South East Counties Division One West), as they are learning week in, week out, even from the heavy defeats.”

Brighton Reserves’ recent form
October 19 – Brighton 9-0 Lewes
October 26 – Brighton 8-0 C&K Basildon
November 9 – Brighton 4-1 QPR
Nov 16 – Brighton 3-5 West Ham United
Nov 23 – Brighton 11-0 Chichester City

FA Women’s Premier League Southern

While Brighton’s first team are going great guns in this division, too, the only Premier League action today, when most of the programme was called off either to allow players to watch England v Germany or because of the weather, was at the other end of the table.

Copsewood Coventry, who are second-to-bottom, drew 1-1 with the team directly above them, Gillingham.

Leah Williams gave the Midlands side a first-half lead, but Louise Lorton equalised soon after half-time to earn a share of the spoils.

The draw has precious little impact on the bottom half of the division, with Keynsham Town already stranded at the bottom and QPR – the team immediately above Gillingham – still two points ahead with three games in hand.

In fact, probably the most relieved team will be seventh-placed Lewes, whose seven-point advantage over the Gills was only marginally eroded. Both have played more games than most of those around them.

FA Women’s Premier League Division One South West

Swindon Town confirmed their promotion credentials as they went clear at the top of the table after clinching a fine double over West Country rivals and early-season front-runners Forest Green Rovers at Cinder Lane.

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Photo courtesy of Forest Green Ladies Football Club

A goal just before half-time from Meg Vella was all that separated the two sides, who were level on points and goal difference before today’s game.

A crowd estimated at about 100 watched the game – the only one in the division to be played – between two sides that are likely to be among the promotion candidates next spring.

It was only Forest Green’s second defeat of the season – the other also inflicted by Swindon in the reverse fixture last month. Swindon have lost just once.

Southampton Saints were unable to cash in on Forest Green’s defeat, as their scheduled fixture against Larkhall Athletic was postponed, denying them the opportunity to move above them.

Bottom-of-the-table Gosport Borough‘s Hampshire Cup tie against Fleet Town was postponed for a second time, but Chichester City‘s FAW Premier League Plate match against Leicester City finally went ahead after the club switched the game to an artificial pitch in Waterlooville.

Despite a decent performance, the Greens, who are fifth in the 10-team division, lost 1-0 to Leicester, who currently head the parallel Midlands Division One.

Kent FA Plate

Prince of Wales maintained their brilliant start to the season with a comprehensive 4-0 plate victory over South East Counties promotion rivals Thanet Colts.

The tie, called off last weekend, went ahead despite the horrendous weather, and the Division One East leaders made the most of it, racing into a 2-0 half-time lead, both goals scored by Caz Rennie.

Rennie completed her hat-trick in the second half after Danni Ritson had put the visitors 3-0 up, ensuring Prince of Wales remain on course for a possible league-and-plate trophy double.

After losing their opening league fixture, Prince of Wales have since won six in a row – including victory over today’s opponents – and are three points clear of Ashford at the top, although they have played a game more.

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