Herne Bay’s bid to retain the South East Counties League Cup that they won as underdogs last season has been given a boost with a semi-final draw against the lowest-ranked team left in the competition.
Anthony Deer’s side, who, as a Division One East outfit, shocked the then Premier Division champions-elect Bexhill United in last season’s final, have been kept apart from their rivals for this season’s Premier title, Dartford Royals, and instead have a journey to West Sussex – to play Wivelsfield Green.
Wivi, who are currently fifth in Division One West, shocked Premier Division Burgess Hill on Sunday, winning 2-1 to reach the semis.
They are one of two teams from outside the Premier Division left in the competition – the other being Worthing Minors, who lead Wivi’s division with a 100% record from 11 matches.
Minors visit Dartford in the second Kent v West Sussex tie.
Bay won the League Cup at the first attempt last season, adding promotion from Division One East for good measure – their fifth honour in two full seasons as a club.
This term they are well placed to mount another promotion push, currently third in the Premier Division, but with games in hand of second-placed Dartford and leaders Meridian.
Herne Bay won their quarter-final on Sunday 3-0 against Long Lane, who are level on points with them. Carly Farrow (2) and Vicky Holness grabbed the goals that continued their amazing introduction to women’s football and set up a semi-final tie in Haywards Heath against Wivelsfield Green.
In the other quarter-finals, Dartford saw off the challenge of another Division One West side, Seahaven Harriers, winning 2-1 in East Sussex, courtesy of Ellen Thomas and Kerry Whitehorn. Lauren Smith replied for Seahaven.
And Worthing Minors caused no more than a – well, minor – upset in defeating Anchorians, who lie mid-table in the Premier Division, 3-0.
Aliss Pidduck, Phoebe Thorpe and – inevitably – Dani Lane scored the Minors goals to extend their unbeaten campaign to 14 league and cup matches – all of which they have won.
The indefatigable Lane secured her 27th goal of a sensational season in which she has scored in every match in which she has featured.
The two semi-finals are scheduled for February 22.
Honours even in Chairman’s Cup clashes
Sunday was also Chairman’s Cup day in the South East Counties Women’s League.
Both of the quarter-finals that survived were won 4-0 – with honours even between the two regional Division Ones.
Ashford, currently second in Division One East, defeated Burgess Hill 2nds, of the western equivalent, with goals from Danielle Berry, Karis Howard, Kirsty Woolard and Kayleigh Harris.
However, Bexhill United Reserves ensured at least one Division One West representative in the semi-finals, recording a fine victory at Division One East strugglers Aylesford Reserves.
Jasmin Gray (2), Megan Alsop and a Kayleigh Baber own goal proved the difference, with Aylesford conceding two late goals as they chased the game.
The match between Crockenhill, the only Premier Division side in the competition, and Prince of Wales, who lead Division One East, was postponed, as was Abbey Rangers‘ tie against Faversham Elizabethans.
Mixed fortunes for Anchorians in Plate
There were also two games in the Kent FA Plate, and while there was disappointment for Anchorians 3rds, who went down 1-0 at home to Castle Colts, Anchorians 2nds triumphed 4-2 against Faversham.
With so much cup action in the region, the only Premier Division match scheduled was between South Park and Parkwood Rangers, but that fell victim to the weather – as did the Kent Division game between Margate and University of Kent.
The only league games to survive were the Kent Division matches between Barming and London Corinthians Reserves – which the latter won 4-2 – and Sheerness East and Swale, in which the visitors triumphed 8-1.
London and South East Regional Premier League
Carshalton Athletic continued their own successful season with a 7-0 victory in their rearranged Surrey County Cup tie at Chobham and Burymead.
Laura Curtis hit three, Georgie O’Halloran two and Ella Bale and Kayley Smith one each.
Fulham Foundation maintained their impressive quest for promotion with a 4-2 win at FAW Cup giant-killers Eastbourne Town.
Verity Snow scored twice and Chloe Greer and Georgie Hodge one apiece as the league leaders proved too strong for an Eastbourne side playing catch-up following their impressive run in the FAW Cup, in which they have beaten Premier League sides Chichester City and Queens Park Rangers.
The East Sussex side find themselves second-to-bottom of the league, with plenty of games in hand, but with the defeats mounting up. Sunday’s was their seventh in 10 league games.
Jacey Samson and Grace Gibbs had given Eastbourne a half-time lead before the London side mounted their comeback.
The division’s match of the day, between second-placed AFC Wimbledon and Old Actonians, who are third, lived up to its billing, the visitors also mounting a second-half comeback to secure a 2-2 draw to ensure both teams remain in contention for the title.
Caroline Bisson and Libby Suchley gave Wimbledon a 2-0 half-time lead, but Carla Williams and Chelsea Berlin earned Actonians a point.
With Carshalton and London Corinthians in cup action, there was a chance for Crawley Wasps to climb up the table, but the West Sussex side fell to a surprise 2-1 defeat to Bexhill United, who needed the points to pull away from the bottom.
Wasps’ chances were hampered by an early injury to goalkeeper Catherine Poleykett, and Bexhill capitalised, clinching the three points with a goal in each half, from Fay Denyer and Lesley Smith. Suzy Davies scored Crawley’s consolation.
Sussex County Women and Girls League
Worthing Town broke their points duck in style, thrashing Henfield 7-0 to climb off the bottom of the Women’s Division.
Worthing’s only point of the season – a 1-1 draw with Predators – had been wiped out after the Bognor Regis side pulled out of the league.
They lost to Henfield in the reverse fixture earlier in the season, but cruised to victory at Henfield Leisure Centre, with a hat-trick from Kimberley Donno, two from Sian Elliott and one each from Beckie Langridge-Rowe and Amy Priest.
In the day’s only other league fixture, Hurstpierpoint maintained their hopes of a top-three finish with a 4-1 triumph at Jarvis Brook. Chloe Ansell and Stacey Jackson scored two apiece.
Southdown crowned champions
Southdown clinched the Under-16 Division title – also winning 7-0 – against Hawks Youth Withdean.
The league may only have four teams, but Southdown have thoroughly deserved their title, winning all seven games so far, racking up 48 goals and conceding only six.
It was the fourth time they had scored seven in a game, and their aim in the remaining two fixtures – both away from their Burgess Hill home – is to preserve their 100% league record.
FAW Premier League
Gillingham and Lewes both suffered narrow defeats in their Reserves League Cup ties but emerged with credit and more than a littlle respect from their tough challenges.
Lewes were beaten by a solitary deflected Stoke City goal at the Dripping Pan, while Gillingham lost 2-0 at home to Sheffield.
Meanwhile, in the league, Portsmouth‘s development side roared to their biggest win of the season, beating Bedford 8-1. Chloe Dark scored four on her return from injury, and Liz O’Callaghan hit three. Pompey’s other came from Brittany Jeal.
There was also a convincing scoreline at Chichester City, where Charlton Athletic did their title hopes the power of good with a 4-0 victory.
Development Squad lose 4-0 at home vs @CAFCWomen Res. A really good first half display & good performance but the finishing was missing
— Chichester City LFC (@ChiCityLadiesFC) January 25, 2015
Francesca Tye (2), Olivia Cole and Kylie Manktelow got the goals that take Charlton to within three points of leaders Brighton with three games in hand.
Brighton‘s match at Queens Park Rangers was called off.
Division One South West
The title battle continues to be headed by Swindon Town, even though all three of their closest rivals made ground on them on Sunday.
With Swindon out of action, Southampton Saints, Exeter City and Forest Green Rovers all won, but with just four games to play, it’s Swindon’s title to lose for a second successive season.
Last term, the Wiltshire side enjoyed a big lead going into the final months, but as they faltered, four teams overtook them.
This time around, such a collapse looks unlikely. They need 10 points from their final four games to be sure of the title, but in reality, a couple of wins and a draw might well prove enough.
That would leave Exeter and Forest Green needing to win all six of their remaining matches, while second-placed Southampton Saints are running out of games.
Exeter, who missed out to local rivals Plymouth Argyle last term, beat Shanklin 5-0, Saints beat St Nicholas by the same score, while Forest Green had to work hard for their 3-1 victory over Chichester City, for whom Jenna Fowlie scored the visitors’ goal.