Sister act: training ground accident leads to knockout win for Abbey

Sent Her Forward’s weekend round-up begins with the story of the sisters whose training-ground drama had a big impact on their team’s result on Sunday

Rachel and Hannah Johnson, Abbey Rangers (Copyright: Neville Dalton - not to be used without permission)

Rachel and Hannah Johnson were treated in hospital after suffering suspected concussion in a training ground collision (Copyright: Neville Dalton/Sent Her Forward – not to be used without permission)

Substitute Rachel Johnson proved a knockout for Abbey Rangers as her two second-half goals helped overturn a three-goal deficit and keep the club in the South East Counties League promotion race.

Johnson, Abbey’s top scorer with 30 goals in 20 games this season, and her sister, Hannah, nearly didn’t make yesterday’s game at Wivelsfield Green after the two collided in training during the week, knocking each other out.

The pair went to hospital, suffering from concussion, and neither was fully fit when manager Paul Johnson – who happens to be their dad – picked his team for Sunday’s crucial promotion contest.

He included Hannah, 16, in his starting XI but left Rachel on the bench, but after the Surrey side found themselves 3-0 down at half-time, the 19-year-old elder sister was thrust into the fray – and helped transform the game, scoring two of Abbey’s four second-half goals.

Rachel told Sent Her Forward: “Hannah and I had an incident in training on Wednesday. We managed to knock each other out and spend the rest of the night in A&E, both coming out with concussion. It could only happen to us.

“The doctors said it was fine – only mild concussion, so it had enough time to heal, and we didn’t play the whole game. We both weren’t feeling 100% today, but I was really happy that I could come on and help the girls out. And scoring the winning goal wasn’t bad, either.”

She added: “It’s pretty funny now, but it wasn’t at the time. It hurt a lot.”

The Johnson sisters’ goals – Hannah has managed eight so far in her debut season – have been a crucial element of Abbey’s superb campaign following their promotion last season from the Surrey County Women and Girls Football League.

They are guaranteed a top-three finish, and while they are unlikely to deny either Worthing Minors or Seahaven Harriers – both of whom they have beaten – the Division One West title, they are very much in with a chance of promotion.

Yesterday that prospect had looked remote as Wivelsfield, who have enjoyed a good season after a shaky start, raced into a 3-0 lead, courtesy of goals from Emma Chrimes (2) and Claudia Vogel, before the second-half transformation.

Lauren Campbell and Clara Walding each scored for Abbey and Johnson hit her double without further response from the hosts, to seal an amazing 4-3 victory.

The victory leaves Abbey in a perfect position to pounce if Minors or Seahaven slip up, but more realistic is a second- or third-place finish.

Title decider

The only two sides above them in the table met for the first time this season yesterday at Newhaven.

Lauren Smith scored the only goal for the home side, cutting Minors’ lead to just two points, and with a game in hand – making the reverse fixture in Worthing next month a probable title decider.

Worthing had only 10 players available – among those missing were Danni Lane and Hayley Bridge, who have more than 40 goals between them this season – but they held out until deep into the second half, when Smith struck what could prove to be a crucial goal for Seahaven, who were without 11-goal Georgia Ungoed.

The pair meet again at Worthing’s ground on April 12.

Elsewhere in Division One West, Worthing Town continued their decent first season back in the league with a 3-1 victory over local rivals Adur Athletic to take them to within two points of their opponents with a game in hand.

Adur’s Faye Charles cancelled out Charlotte Hoskins‘ first-half opener, but further goals from Kim Donno and Dulcie Elder sealed a league derby double for Worthing over their rivals, who also returned to this league this season after winning the Sussex County League last year.

Bottom club Dorking crashed to their 14th defeat in 14 games this season, but there was at least a much improved performance to cheer the Surrey side.

They lost only 1-0 to second-to-bottom Bexhill United Reserves, for whom first-team player Lucy Knight scored the only goal for only their third win of the season.

It was a timely and welcome win for the East Sussex side, who have struggled this season.

Charlton seize chance as leaders falter

The battle for Division One East looks every bit as exciting as the one in the West division after the leading two both slipped up yesterday, bringing Charlton Athletic Development into the equation.

Leaders Ashford could only draw at home to Faversham Elizabethans, while Prince of Wales missed the chance to take advantage, falling to their third defeat of the season – 3-2 at home to Thanet Colts.

The Canterbury side, who were beaten by Bromley in the final of the Kent FA Plate earlier this month, would have gone top with a win, but although they can still overtake Ashford if they win their game in hand, they, too, can be overhauled if Charlton capitalise on their own game in hand of them.

Liberty Prior and Caroline Rennie scored Prince of Wales’s goals, but the Colts hit three to make it six wins from their 12 league games so far this season.

Ashford stay top despite being held 1-1 at home by Faversham. Rosie Scotton scored for the home side, but Diba Artingstoll was on target to earn a point for Faversham.

Charlton, who had looked certainties for third place, gatecrashed the promotion party, winning 2-1 at home to Castle Colts.

Tyra Poole and Lauren Parsons – on her debut – scored Charlton’s goals, moving them to within five points of the leaders with two games in hand. And they still have the top two to play.

South East Counties Division One East

P W D L F A PTS
Ashford 12 8 2 2 40 15 26
Prince of Wales 11 8 0 3 29 22 24
Charlton Athletic Dev 10 7 0 3 30 18 21

Students scoring for fun

University of Kent have had a dreadful season in the Kent County Division, not only losing every league game they’ve played but failing to register a goal in the first 13 of them.

But they haven’t complained; they’ve turned up every week when it might have been easier to pull out, and they’ve earned rewards – of sorts – in the past couple of matches.

A fortnight ago, Brittany Rotor, on her debut, scored the club’s first league goal in a game they still lost 10-1. And yesterday, they tripled their tally, going down 3-2 to Swale – their narrowest defeat of the season.

Sarah Fletcher scored two for Swale and Bethany Catchpole got the other, but even after their 15th league defeat of the season, the university side still have something to smile about.

For despite their abysmal league form, they are in the final of the Kent Divisional Cup at Maidstone United’s Gallagher Stadium, where they will face runaway league leaders Long Lane Reserves, who have won all 13 of their matches and who beat the students 9-0 earlier in the season.

If they were thinking it doesn’t get any tougher than that, they should think again. A week later, the university side  round off their eventful season with their final league fixture – the reverse game against Long Lane Reserves…

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