Sent Her Forward’s weekend round-up focuses on the battle to reach the County Cup finals
It’s a repeat of last year’s Sussex Challenge Cup final after holders Chichester City and the team they defeated, Brighton, both enjoyed straightforward semi-final victories.
Chichester eased to an ultimately comfortable 4-0 victory over a competitive Seahaven Harriers, who held the cup holders until just before half-time.
But two goals from Lauren Cheshire and one each from Chloe Dowdell and Rachel Waller saw Chichester comfortably through to their third county cup final in five years.
Seahaven, who play three tiers below their opponents, still have a chance of a trophy, currently lying third in the South East Counties Division One West.
Chichester are out of the promotion reckoning in Division One South West of the FAW Premier League.
However, their cup-final opponents will be eyeing a trophy double after cantering to their 10th Sussex final in 11 years – of which they have won seven.
Brighton, who are second in the FAW Premier League, cruised to a 15-0 victory over Hassocks, the bottom club in the London & South East Women’s Regional League, two tiers below.
They were 7-0 up by half-time and rattled in another eight after the break as James Marrs’ almost full-strength team showed their struggling opponents no mercy.
Midfielder-cum-striker Charlotte Owen helped herself to four goals and there were braces for Fliss Gibbons, Jay Blackie, Sophie Perry and Megan Fox, while Charlotte Gurr, Kirsty Barton and Deanna Cooper weighed in with a goal apiece.
Marrs, who awarded a first-team debut to Centre of Excellence graduate Phoebe Leitch, told his club’s website the result was just reward for the players’ hard work and adherence to the coaches’ instructions.
But he praised Hassocks’ determination and refusal to give up. “It’s very easy for them to throw the towel in, but they never did that,” he said. “They worked really hard, and I felt 15-0 was a bit harsh for the effort they put into the game.”
Of Leitch, Marrs said: “I thought she had a really good, solid 65 minutes of first-team football. You want to see the youngsters out there competing with the seniors.”
Old foes in derby cup-final showdown
Meanwhile, across the border, Portsmouth and Southampton Saints set up a dream Hampshire Challenge Cup final after cruising through their semis.
Ini Umotong, the striker who cannot stop scoring, celebrated her call-up to the Nigeria squad with two more goals in Portsmouth‘s 7-0 victory over Poole Town.
Like Brighton, one of their fiercest rivals for the Premier League title, Pompey fielded a strong side for their semi-final against a team three tiers below them.
And like Brighton, they scored plenty of goals – although the final tally would have been considerably higher if it had not been for some top-class saves from Poole goalkeeper Samantha Chrippes.
Pompey, looking for a 12th victory in a row in all competitions, raced to a 4-0 half-time lead, with Umotong scoring the first two in little more than a quarter of an hour – her 19th and 20th goals in her 14 games since joining the club – and Gemma Hillier and Leeta Rutherford also getting on the scoresheet.
Second-half substitute Jess Frampton and Lucy Quinn (2) put Pompey in seventh heaven, although the margin could have been more but for a series of late saves from Chrippes.
Pompey will meet Southampton Saints in the final at Privett Park in April after the team from the division below them made short work of their semi-final tie, thrashing Andover New Street 9-0.
Saints, who are enjoying a fine season in the FAW Premier League’s Division One South West – the same league as Sussex Cup finalists Chichester City – booked their place with a nine-goal salvo, led by five-goal Krystal Whyte, whose haul included a nine-minute hat-trick.
Jemma Tewkesbury, Saints’ astute signing from Super League Yeovil Town, added to her debut goal last week with two more to clinch a cup-final clash with another of her former clubs.
Saints’ other goals came from Jess Lewry and Catherine Browning.
Cardiff setting title pace
Four other Premier League teams were due to be in county cup action, but QPR‘s Capital Cup semi-final against West Ham United and Charlton Athletic‘s tie in the same competition at Enfield Town were both postponed.
Copsewood Coventry scraped a 2-1 win over Birmingham & West Midlands Police to reach the semi-finals of the Birmingham County Cup.
With so many Premier League teams otherwise engaged, leaders Cardiff City took the opportunity to move four points clear at the top, avenging their early-season defeat to Plymouth Argyle with a 5-0 win at Cardiff Athletics Stadium.
Cori Williams scored twice to take her season tally to 20 – three behind top scorer Kelly Aldridge, who bagged the first.
Kelly Isaac and Naomi Clipston got the others.
The other scheduled Premier League game, between Lewes and Keynsham Town, was postponed.